BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg confirmed her status as the star of the women’s game with a blistering first half hat-trick in the 4-1 Champions League final win over Barcelona — and then urged Europe’s other clubs to try to catch the dominant French side.
Hegerberg has won four straight Champions League titles with Lyon after joining them from German club Turbine Potsdam in 2014 and is the current women’s Ballon d’Or.
Her clinical finishing resulted in goals in the 14th, 19th and 30th minutes of a one-sided final at the Groupama Arena on Saturday as she gave debutant finalists Barcelona a lesson in finishing.
“It’s an incredible night for me,” she said after receiving the player of the match award, with the sponsors finding an old friend from Oslo in the crowd to surprise her with the prize.
“Scoring a hat-trick in such an incredible final is something remarkable. I don’t usually talk about myself as there is a team behind me but tonight I am really satisfied as it hasn’t been an easy season and being there at the big moments makes me extremely happy. It makes me hungry for more in the future,” she said.
The 23-year-old’s strength, astute positional awareness and quality final touch made the difference for Lyon but the French side’s dominance was evident all over the field.
Hegerberg, though, was dismissive of the notion that it was too easy for her team to keep winning.
“It’s never easy winning year after year –- people think it is easier than it is –- tough, every quarter, semi and every final, I think we just care about the best.
“Of course others are inspired and want to beat us –- but who doesn’t want to be the best for a long time? It is all about what to achieve for the future. We have raised the bar but staying on top motivates me, you want to stay on top.”
The Norwegian said Lyon club president Jean-Michel Aulas had shown, with his investment in global talent and top facilities, a path that others could follow.
“Our president has done everything for us. We need more people like him in the women’s game, people who can make that difference. He believes in us and gives the conditions we need to be the best.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Clare Fallon