BUDAPEST — It was never in doubt.
With a goal after five minutes and a hat trick by its star striker Ada Hegerberg in the first half-hour, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin produced a performance of crushing dominance on Saturday to beat Barcelona, 4-1, and claim a record fourth straight Champions League title.
It was also Lyon’s sixth Champions League crown in nine seasons, enhancing the team’s reputation as perhaps the most dominant team in sports. It became the first team, men’s or women’s, to win four consecutive Champions League crowns.
It took just five minutes for Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan to open the scoring, and within the first 30 minutes, Lyon had added three more goals to effectively end the most significant club game in women’s soccer before halftime.
Hegerberg, the lodestar in Lyon’s expensively assembled constellation of world-class talent, scored in quick succession — in the 14th, 19th and 30th minutes — as Lyon overwhelmed Barcelona, which was playing in its first Champions League final and seeking to become the first club to win both the men’s and women’s titles in the competition.
Barcelona, set up as a professional outfit only four years ago, was simply overmatched in the first half, and Lyon’s players showed no mercy, tearing through its shellshocked defense at will in a first-half display that at times threatened to produce a goal with every rush forward.
The Dutch wing Shanice van de Sanden’s power and pace proved unstoppable in the early exchanges. She set up Lyon’s first two goals in almost identical fashion, tearing past her defender on the right before centering low — first for Marozsan and then Hegerberg. The third goal came from a cross from the opposite wing from Amel Majri that Hegerberg powerfully stroked in.
Hegerberg, voted the winner last year of the first Women’s Ballon d’Or as the world’s best player, then reacted quickest to a ball into the area from England’s Lucy Bronze to complete her hat trick, the first in a one-off Champions League final by a player of any gender in 50 years.
Her performance highlighted just what fans will miss at next month’s World Cup. Hegerberg quit Norway’s national team in frustration in 2017 and will not be at the tournament in France. Most of her Lyon teammates will be there, though, and it seemed that with victory assured, Coach Reynald Pedros had the luxury of taking off players bound for France as he made a stream of late substitutions.
The changes gave the second half an air of an exhibition game, and a break from the frenzied tempo that had marked Lyon’s first-half onslaught.
Barcelona seemed to regain its composure after the blistering start: Alexia nearly put her team on the board with a header off a corner kick just before halftime, and the Dutch forward Lieke Martens and the Spanish midfielder Vicky Losada both missed golden opportunities in the second half. With the contest all but over, Barcelona managed a late consolation goal through the substitute Asisat Oshoala.
MANCHESTER CITY WINS F.A. CUP Raheem Sterling scored a hat trick as Manchester City completed the first sweep of English men’s soccer trophies by routing Watford, 6-0, in the F.A. Cup final in London. City’s fourth piece of silverware this season was sealed with four different scorers at Wembley Stadium, with David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus also adding to Watford’s humiliation. The victory for Pep Guardiola’s side came a week after the Premier League trophy was retained to join the League Cup and Community Shield already in City’s possession. But the achievement comes against the backdrop of investigations into City’s compliance into soccer’s spending rules that could lead to the Abu Dhabi-owned team being barred from the Champions League. (AP)