Barcelona fight back against Real Madrid to take control of UWCL quarterfinal

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinal first leg match against Real Madrid.
Alexia Putellas of Barcelona celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinal first leg match against Real Madrid.
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Alexia Putellas scored twice as Barcelona came back from a goal down to beat Real Madrid 3-1 in their UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday.

Winger Olga Carmona put Madrid ahead at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium after eight minutes -- just the second time that Barca had gone behind this season -- as the home side dominated the first half.

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Captain Putellas levelled for the visitors with a 53rd minute penalty, before substitute Claudia Pina scored and Putellas grabbed another in added time to give Barca the edge going into the second leg, which will be played at a sold-out Camp Nou on March 30.

"It's a great result but the tie isn't over," Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez said. "We knew it was going to be a difficult game. In the Champions League it's been hard for us, especially away from home... After the 5-0 [against Real Madrid in the league] we knew they'd do something different, but we didn't expect such a high press."

Madrid are competing in the Women's Champions League this season for the first time since the team was formed in 2020, while Barcelona are the reigning European champions.

The two sides had already met three times this season, with Barca winning all three encounters, including a 5-0 victory in the league nine days earlier.

Madrid started strongly and an upset looked possible when Carmona opened the scoring, slotting past goalkeeper Sandra Panos after being found in space on the left by forward Esther Gonzalez.

Barca's first sight of goal saw Misa Rodriguez save a long-range shot from Patri Guijarro, but Real Madrid looked more likely to add to their lead before half-time.

Esther hit the post with 37 minutes played and two minutes later had another effort saved by Panos in a one-on-one.

Barcelona improved after the break, and were awarded a penalty after a lengthy pitch-side VAR check when Caroline Graham Hansen was challenged by Olga.

Ballon d'Or winner Putellas dispatched the spot kick for her sixth Champions League goal this season.

Madrid continued to threaten, including when Esther shot over the bar in the 53rd minute after Madrid had won the ball back in a dangerous position, but it was Barcelona who struck next.

Graham Hansen got in behind the Madrid defence on the right and after an initial effort was blocked, Pina followed up, before Putellas kept a cool head in the 93rd minute to chip keeper Misa and give Barca the advantage ahead of the return leg.

"Until the penalty we competed, we were superior," Real Madrid coach Alberto Toril said in his post-match news conference. "After the penalty, they were better. I'm annoyed, because this is a Champions League quarter-final, we should be more demanding. Nobody was asking for a penalty. There was a slight contact. That penalty shouldn't have been given.

"[The scoreline] is a bit excessive, given what we saw on the pitch," he added. "Today I have the feeling we could have won. It was very even. We could have gone in further ahead at half time, because Esther hit the post and had the one-on-one. They hardly created any chances in the first half, but the second half was more even."