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Lyon and Chelsea win first-leg matches in Women’s Champions League quarterfinals

LONDON: Lyon and Chelsea underlined their status as two of the favorites for the Women’s Champions League title by earning first-leg wins on the road in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Lyon, the record eight-time champion, came from behind to beat Benfica 2-1, while Chelsea ultimately eased to a 3-0 victory at Ajax to close in on a second straight appearance in the last four of Europe’s top competition.

The second legs are on March 27.

Lyon still have not lost in either the French league or the Champions League this season, but they needed a second-half comeback to maintain that record.

France forward Delphine Cascarino equalized in the 63rd and Germany midfielder Sara Dabritz headed home a cross from US captain Lindsay Horan for the winner in the 79th in Lisbon.

Benfica were making its debut in the quarterfinals, and Andreia Faria gave the hosts the lead in the 43rd after intercepting a stray pass on the halfway line and running through unchallenged.

Ajax are also competing in the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time and caused plenty of problems for Chelsea early on at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, only to concede goals from the visitors’ only two shots of the first half.

England forward Lauren James rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home in the 19th minute for a goal that stood after a VAR check for offside, before Sjoeke Nusken slid in to convert the second in the 44th.

Nusken headed in the third goal in the 83rd to leave Chelsea in total control ahead of the return match at Stamford Bridge, where the club’s men’s team plays.

Chelsea are bidding to win the Champions League for the first time and also are chasing a quadruple of major trophies in coach Emma Hayes’ final season in charge before she takes the helm of the US’ women’s national team.

Hayes’ team lead the Women’s Super League, are into the final of the English League Cup and have reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.

The quarterfinals continue Wednesday with defending champion Barcelona away to Norwegian team Brann and Hacken of Sweden hosting Paris Saint-Germain.

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