Arsenal v Umeå IKUEFA Women's Cup Final 2nd Leg Boreham Wood FC Sunday, April 29, 12pm
By Adam Clark
Goalkeeper Emma Byrne has revealed how Umea's apparent over-confidence ahead of the Uefa Women's Cup Final first leg served as a psychological boost to Arsenal Ladies.
The expectation in Sweden was that their champions would ease to victory against the Gunners. Yet Alex Scott's 90th-minute wonder strike is the difference between the sides going into Sunday's second leg at Boreham Wood FC.
Republic of Ireland international Byrne admits their opponents' light-hearted approach to warming up inspired Arsenal's unexpected triumph.
"They came across as quite confident," she told Arsenal.com. "Even in the warm up, when we were doing the usual exercises, they were in a circle playing keepie-ups. That wound us up a little bit more I think because they seemed to think they had it in the bag."
If the hosts were stunned, the win was no shock to Byrne. The 27-year-old, who has won five league titles, two FA Cups and three League Cups in her nine seasons at the Club, is fully aware of Arsenal's capabilities. For that she credits her manager and the founding father of the Club, Vic Akers.
"Vic has been an absolute pillar in the women's game," said Byrne. "I don't think it's recognised as much as it should be. For 20 years now his team has dominated women's football. For somebody to give as much as he does, in every aspect of his life is incredible.
"Everything he does is for the game - he gives up so much time, effort and commitment and he deserves some kind of recognition. If he doesn't get it from the hierarchies we'll definitely be winning it for him."
On Sunday Byrne has the chance to add the most prestigious honour of them all to her already sizeable list. She has called on the fans to play their part with Arsenal needing only to avoid defeat to clinch the Uefa Women's Cup for the first time.
"We're thrilled to be going in [to the second leg] with a 1-0 lead," she said. "I don't think anybody really expected us to come away from Sweden with that scoreline and it's nice to bring it back to our fans.
"We know it's conflicting with the men's game and people will have their priorities but if people turn out to support us it would be such a boost. We need that 12th man."
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