By Alex Henderson
Arsenal Ladies will face Umea IK, the Swedish champions, in the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Women’s Cup after a 3-0 defeat to Olympique Lyonnais at Stade de Gerland on Tuesday night.
Though both sides had already qualified, the French side were undoubtedly Arsenal’s toughest opponents of Group B3 and the first 10 minutes proved it. Lyon had several shots on target and it was clear that keeper Emma Byrne was going to have a little more to do in this match than her previous two encounters this week.
The expected threats - Katia Teixeira Da Silva, Lotta Schelin and Sonia Bompaster - had several early chances but Byrne was either equal to the shot or the Gunners defence forced the shot wide.
Arsenal’s first effort came from what seemed a frustrated Karen Carney in the 16th minute. Playing on the left wing, she received the ball on the half-way line and, after easily dribbling past two Lyon players, gambled with a long-distance shot from 40 yards out. Unfortunately it went over the bar.
Lyon arguably should have been 1-0 up in the 21st minute after some beautiful footwork by Louisa Necib. She proved too fast for Faye White and found Da Silva, who was then one-on-one against Byrne. But Yvonne Tracy was hot on the Brazilian’s heels and did enough to make her shoot just inches wide.
Six minutes later Lyon did take the lead through Cruz Trana. A loose ball was picked up quickly by Necib who then fed Cruz Trana. In the box, she had little to do but beat Byrne and, even though the Irish international got low to the ground to get a hand to it, the ball trickled slowly into the back of the net.
Lyon continued their ever-threatening style of play on Arsenal, and hit the bar in the 36th minute though Dalum’s 30-yard shot but Byrne pulled off a fantastic save.
Jayne Ludlow went close in the 39th minute. After receiving the ball from Kim Little and the Welsh international let fly and was unlucky that Pons got her hands to a shot that looked to be soaring towards the top right hand corner of the net.
The corner that followed caused a sticky moment for Lyon. Gemma Davison’s shot was cleared off the line by the French defence only to fall to Ludlow, who picked up the ball inside the 12 yard box. Unfortunately her second shot of the game went infuriatingly over the bar, leaving the score at half-time 1-0 to the home side.
The second half started similar to the first, with Lyon looking the stronger side of the two. Arsenal did look more energetic and both Davison and Carney had some great runs down their respective wings of the pitch.
However in the 54th minute Byrne made two great saves in quick succession. Another shot followed minutes later from Bompaster just going wide.
Vic Akers made his first substitution in the 62nd minute, with Rachel Yankey coming on for Davison. The fresh legs of the English international would be vital for Arsenal.
Almost immediately Fleeting had a couple of decent chances. The first was a header just wide, the second was saved by the keeper after the Scot fought hard in the six-yard box with three defenders closing her down.
However it would be Arsenal's last chance to draw level.
The 75th and 79th minute saw two more goals from Lyon through Camille Abiley and Schelin. The French champions were simply too good for Arsenal Ladies this evening and, as a result, Umea IK lie in wait.
"It was disappointing to lose the game, but the important thing was to get into the last eight again and we’ve done that," said Akers afterwards.
"The tie against Umeå IK will be tough and they’ll be out for revenge for the 2007 final, but we toughed it out on that occasion and we’ll aim to do the same next month."
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- Scott Yellow Card
- White 70
- Fleeting Yellow Card
- Davison 63
- Grant 70 Yellow Card
- Yankey 63
- Katia 70
- Abily Goal!
- Schelin 87 Goal! Goal!
- Thomis 70
- Petit 87