By Nik Brumsack at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League with a comfortable win over Spanish champions Barcelona.
A second-half hat-trick from Jennifer Beattie and a further strike by Kim Little secured victory on the day, though Arsenal had already taken a big step to qualifying with last week’s 3-0 win in the first leg.
There were four changes to the team that secured the Women’s Super League title on Sunday, as Steph Houghton, Yvonne Tracy and Rachel Yankey all came into the side.
They were joined by Kelly Smith, who returned to the starting line-up after scoring in the victory against Doncaster.
She spearheaded an attack that was supported by Yankey and Gemma Davison.
The match itself started quietly, with Arsenal’s neat build-up play a feature, though encouraging attacking forays were extinguished by an inability to find the final pass.
It took until 16 minutes before either goalkeeper was tested, with Little’s shot being easily gathered by Laura Rafols.
Then, just before the half-hour mark, the Barcelona goalkeeper had to be on hand to superbly save Nobbs’ powerful low shot, after Little had created the chance with an inch-perfect through-ball.
Davison then had an appeal for a penalty turned down, before Houghton’s 25-yard free kick landed just over.
Despite the visitors needing goals at the start of the second half, it was Arsenal who started brightly, and were rewarded with the opening goal after 53 minutes.
Yankey swung in a deep free kick that was met by the head of half-time substitute Beattie, whose effort was too powerful for Rafols to keep out.
The lead was doubled just four minutes later, with Yankey again the architect.
After escaping down the left flank, the winger’s cross was met at the back post by the onrushing Little, who volleyed home.
Beattie could have extended the lead yet further, heading over from seven yards after fellow substitute Ellen White had found her with a peach of a cross.
Arsenal were rampant now, and after Little and Houghton had efforts well saved by Rafols, the home side added a third after 78 minutes.
In scenes reminiscent of the first goal, Yankey delivered a deep cross that was headed in by Beattie.
And the striker completed her hat-trick in stoppage time, tucking home a penalty after Ellen White had been brought down by Rafols in the area.
Arsenal will face 2010 winners FFC Turbine Potsdam in the last 16.
- Tracy Yellow Card
- Yankey Yellow Card
- Little 75 Goal!
- Chapman (C) Yellow Card
- Davison 64
- Smith 46
- Carter 75
- White 64
- Beattie 46 Goal! Goal! Goal!
- Rafols Yellow Card
- Gomez 64
- Escribano (C)
- Putellas 55
- Gili 53
- Gutierrez 53
- Dieguez 64
- Bermudez 55