Sunday 30 March 2014

Arsenal 0 (0) Blues 2 (3)

Birmingham City Ladies boss David Parker was full of praise for his young side as they secured a UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final spot for the first time in their history.

Goals from Kirsty Linnett and Remi Allen added to the 1-0 advantage garnered in the first leg, ensuring Blues ran out 3-0 aggregate winners against their illustrious opponents.

A jubilant Parker said: “Even though people have written us off, we knew what we had it in this squad and knew we could beat them over two legs. We wanted to tweak how we went about this game and be more attacking and pressing. We knew we’d need to score an away goal and they’d struggle to score three goals against our defence.

“They’ve got World Cup winners and the likes of Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey. That’s some frontline, so it was pleasing to restrict them to limited chances.”

Blues were showing no sign of the nerves that had been on display in the first ten minutes of the opening leg and captain Karen Carney struck the post with just two minutes on the clock.

The game could have been so different had Blues goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer not pulled off a stunning save with the game at 0-0.

Danielle Carter’s shot was blocked and the ball fell kindly for Japanese striker Shinobu Ohno, but her effort was somehow tipped around the post by a full-stretch Spencer.

Blues took a deserved lead a minute later when Linnett latched on to a through ball and fired home from a narrowing angle - sparking jubilant scenes in the away dugout.

That lead was doubled seven minutes later when Carney got free down the right and whipped in a cross which was dummied by Linnett, leaving Allen to fire into the roof of the net.

Kelly Smith rattled the bar for the hosts with a 35-yard free-kick before Ohno fired the rebound over the bar, but it was proving to be another defensive masterclass by Parker’s side as they shut out Arsenal for the second game in a row to secure a semi-final clash with Swedish side Tyresö FF.

Blues Ladies: Spencer; Weston (Simpkins, 85), Mannion, Harrop (Torkildsen, 85), Carter; Moore, Potter; Carney, Allen, Lawley; Linnett (Keryakoplis, 81)

Unused subs: Baggaley, Sargeant, Westwood, Wilkinson

Goals: Linnett (24), Allen (31)

Arsenal Ladies: Byrne, Kinga, Smith, Yankey (Williamson, 81), Carter, Mitchell, Weir, Scott, Stoney, Bailey (Ayisi, 48), Ohno (Bragg, 83)

Unused subs: Hoogendijk, Chamberlain, Humphrey.


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