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Aitana’s Double Strike Propels Barcelona to Victory over Athletic Club

Barca Femeni win over Athletic Club Femenino
Barca Femeni win over Athletic Club Femenino

Barcelona secures a strong and emphatic first leg win against Athletic Club in Copa de la Reina.

San Mamés played host to the Queen’s Cup semi-final first leg clash between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona, where Barcelona nearly secured their spot in the final ahead of the return leg at Johan Cruyff Stadium. According to Joan Poqui of Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona operated like a well-oiled machine, maintaining a relentless pace and commanding total control against an Athletic side that fought to stay in the game, relying heavily on their defensive prowess at the expense of offensive presence. Aitana swiftly settled the match within three minutes of the first half, while Fridolina Rolfö made a triumphant return from her lengthy injury, completing a scoreline that all but sealed the deal for Paralluelo’s verdict.

Barcelona narrowly missed out on the Queen’s Cup title last season, hindering their quest for the second women’s treble in their history. In the iconic setting of San Mamés, where they aspire to grace a new Champions League final in the forthcoming months, they took a significant step towards clinching the cup title that eluded them last season. Despite their dominant performance against Athletic Club, clear-cut opportunities were somewhat scarce.

Although the customary barrage of opportunities was absent, Aitana swiftly made her mark on the game within the opening quarter-hour, capitalizing on an Athletic side struggling to contain their attacking threats. Following a short corner taken by Claudia Pina, Aitana found herself unmarked near the front, effortlessly slotting the ball into the top corner with her left foot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Nanclares.

In a mere three minutes, the world’s finest player replicated her feat, this time striking with her right foot from the same right corner as before, courtesy of a well-timed pass between Marta and Graham Hansen, who once again provided the assist.

Aitana, unmarked within the box on this occasion, swiftly dispatched the ball into the corner with her right foot, effectively placing Barcelona in a commanding position within the space of three minutes, against an Athletic side that admirably held their ground against the relentless force of Barcelona’s attack. Nanclares thwarted any further advances with an exceptional save from Pina’s powerful strike, while Athletic’s efforts to mount a comeback were fruitless, resulting in several corners and lateral fouls that failed to yield any significant consequences.

Barcelona’s supporters were fully immersed in the game as their team asserted their dominance on the field. They dictated the tempo, orchestrating attacks through Ona Batlle’s ventures from the left flank and intricate playmaking orchestrated by Aitana, Welsh, or Mariona, operating in a ‘false nine’ position. Despite Athletic’s resolute defensive setup with five players at the back and Azkona spearheading their counterattacks, they were unable to stifle Barcelona’s relentless pursuit of victory.

As the game entered its final stages, Barcelona intensified their efforts with the introduction of fresh legs from the bench. Salma Paralluelo came close to breaking the deadlock with a headed effort, only to be denied by Nanclares, who parried the ball away for a corner. It was a warning sign for Athletic.

Undeterred, Salma made amends on her second attempt, receiving a pass from Patri before evading two defenders and calmly slotting the ball past Nanclares with a clinical finish. Just moments before, Fridolina Rolfö made a triumphant return to the field after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.