By Isaac Moore at The Hive
Arsenal Ladies are out of the Women's Champions League after 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City at The Hive.
The Gunners came into this game trailing by a single goal and first-half strikes from Kirsty Linnett and Remi Allen left Shelley Kerr's team with too much to do.
Arsenal improved in the second half but the Blues were worthy winners over the two legs. The Gunners must move on quickly and focus on their upcoming WSL campaign.
SETTING THE SCENE
Speaking before the game, Kerr admitted her side were below par in Monday's first-leg defeat at St. Andrew's but she decided to stick with the team that started that game. Birmingham coach David Parker also named an unchanged side.
Arsenal's previous two games at The Hive had ended with resounding wins over Lincoln in the Continental Cup final and Glasgow City in the last round of the Champions League. With the pitch in pristine condition, there was confidence that the Ladies could overturn a 1-0 deficit.
But Birmingham had limited Arsenal to just a handful of shots in the first leg and, with a narrow lead to protect, it was always going to be a nervy afternoon.
In the knowledge than an away goal could prove decisive, the visitors started on the attack. Emma Byrne was forced to parry a cross that diverted off Yukari Kinga before Karen Carney's follow-up hit the outside of the post from the angle.
Arsenal were nearly caught cold in the eighth minute when Jo Potter's short free-kick found Carney in space and her inviting cross evaded all the blue shirts before Arsenal eventually cleared.
The Gunners' first opening came in the 12th minute when Emma Mitchell's searching pass found Shinobu Ohno, whose shot was tame and straight at Rebecca Spencer.
Arsenal's best chance of the first half came in the 24th minute when Danielle Carter made a driving run into the box before teeing up Ohno. Her shot looked destined for the corner but Spencer tipped behind.
Moments later, Birmingham took the lead. Linnett burst onto a loose ball and fired a low effort past Byrne.
It was a body blow to Arsenal and the momentum was all with the visitors. Six minutes later, the tie was put beyond the Gunners. Birmingham worked the ball wide to Carney, her low cross found Allen in space and she swept past Byrne.
Arsenal were better in the second half but it was all in vain. Caroline Weir combined neatly with Ohno on the edge of the Birmingham box before shooting straight into the arms of Spencer.
Kelly Smith then crashed a free-kick from 30 yards onto the crossbar and Ohno volleyed the rebound over.
In the 69th minute substitute Freda Ayisi exchanged passes with Smith before letting fly from distance but Spencer's positioning was good and she made a comfortable save.
The impressive Ayisi then manoeuvred herself some space before skying a shot over from distance.
Carter and Jade Moore both saw efforts go wide in the closing stages as the game petered out to a frustrating conclusion for Kerr's side.
- Yankey 81
- Bailey 49
- Ohno 83
- Bragg 83
- Carla Humphrey
- Williamson 81
- Ayisi 49
Birmingham City Ladies
- Weston 85
- Harrop 85
- Allen Goal!
- Linnett 83 Goal!
- Simpkins 85
- Keryakoplis 83
- Torkildsen 85