(Umea IK win 8-3 on aggregate)
It was clear just one minute from kick-off that tonight, in -4 degrees at Gammliavallen Stadium, was not going to be Arsenal Ladies’ night. After a 3-2 win against the Swedish Champions just six days ago at Boreham Wood, a draw would have been enough to see Arsenal through to the Semi-Final of the most elite women’s football competition in Europe but it simply was not to be; Umea IK put six goals in the back of Arsenal’s net confirming their place in the last four of the competition.
The match couldn’t have started any worse for the Gunners in this second-leg of the quarter-final of the UEFA Women’s Cup with Marta Da Silva scoring inside the first minute of the match. Niamh Fahey was caught off guard on the left wing of Arsenal’s half, beaten by the immense power and speed of the Brazilian as well as her Swedish team-mate Ramona Bachmann. The pair’s one-two just inside Arsenal’s box, and the low, powerful shot from Marta made its way between Emma Byrne’s legs into the back of the net.
The pressure was clearly on.
For the next ten minutes, early shots were taken by any Arsenal player who saw a glimpse of the goal, however, none of them hitting the target and the 14th minute produced a sign that the game just wasn’t going to go Arsenal’s way.
Karen Carney made a great run from just inside Umea’s half keeping the ball close to her feet, giving Anna Paulson a tough time in defence. Carney’s crafty footwork led her to just outside the box in the centre of the field and her beautifully taken shot chipped the keeper easily, dipping on target only to hit the woodwork. The ball bounced to Kim Little just metres from goal, but the Swedish keeper parried Little’s powerful shot, the ball returning straight back to the Scottish 18 year-old whose second shot went just wide.
Two great chances for Arsenal and the pressure from the Gunners continued for the next 15 minutes. The odd counter-attack from Umea were stopped before a shot was produced. Arsenal hit the woodwork for a second time in the 30th minute after Jayne Ludlow headed the ball on the edge of the 12 yard box, only to hit the bar. The cross from Gemma Davison was perfect; it was frustrating to see Arsenal having so many near-misses.
The 33rd minute looked destined to be 2-0 down for the Gunners as Byrne found herself in a one v one situation against arguably the best female footballer in the world. Marta simply beat Yvonne Tracy to a loose ball gliding down the right wing of Arsenal’s half. Luckily the end result was a shot wide of goal.
Umea looked to have sorted their troubles in defence and in the 43rd minute, Marta put the Swedes 2-0 in front. The first shot came from Johanna Rasmussen of which Byrne made a great save, but unfortunately, the ball dropped to the Brazilian who showed no problems in putting the ball in the back of the net just before the break.
Vic Akers made a substitution at the break with Julie Fleeting replacing Gemma Davison. Unfortunately, Umea started the first half exactly the same way as the first, with Marta completing her hatrick of the match within the first minute of play. The disappointment continued as Hanna Ljungberg added her name to the score-sheet one minute later after twisting and turning her way through the Arsenal 12-yard box to smash the ball pass Byrne.
Arsenal heads were low. The game was arguably over.
After two more substitutions for Arsenal, the 58th minute brought another goal for Umea taking their lead to five. Marta was simply too fast for the Gunners’ defence even with Faye White giving the back-four some fresh legs.
Although Arsenal never gave up, it was clear a miracle was needed to keep the Gunners in the competition. That miracle never came and Umea managed to pick up a sixth undeserved goal in the 72nd minute after a penalty decision was given by the referee. White tussled with Marta in the box, giving as hard as she got, only for Marta to fall to the floor inside the 12 yard box. She picked herself up quickly, the referee played advantage, but Marta seemed to trip to the floor again. The whistle was blown. A yellow card was awarded to White. And Umea’s goalkeeper made her way to the opposition’s penalty spot in an unsportsman-like manner.
And so Arsenal conceded a record-six goals in their European history, the worst and last result in the competition for Vic Akers.
After the match, Vic said: “Sadly we never got out the stalls. We were overrun from minute one. The same as we did in London with our early goal in two minutes, Umea did the same in one minute. We were always up against it from that point. We tried to recover ourselves, but the keeper made two or three really important stops in the first half and then the game changed when we conceded again just before half-time, and immediately after half-time. We were coming out to have a go but we found ourselves at 48 minutes, 4-0 down. The game’s gone.
“But we obviously offer our congratulations to the Umea side. Let’s hope they can go on to win it this year.
“It’s disappointing obviously for me on a personal note. I go out [of managing the team] at the end of this year with a 6 goal defeat. I finish at the end of this season and it’s not the way I would have liked to gone out of this competition especially.
Referee: Christine Beck (Germany)
Copyright 2018 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.