By Chris Harris
Arsenal Ladies are still in the hunt for a place in the Quarter-Finals of the Women's Champions League after a battling performance in Germany on Wednesday.
Laura Harvey's team lost 2-1 to Duisberg at the MSV Arena but the Ladies pegged back the European champions in the second half to leave their last-eight tie in the balance.
German international Inka Grings opened the scoring in the 24th minute from the penalty spot - her ninth European goal of the season - and Marina Hegering's strike four minutes into the second half put Duisberg in a strong position.
But Arsenal rallied and halved the deficit when Grings put into her own net after 66 minutes. That away goal could prove crucial when the teams meet again in the second leg at Bishop's Stortford FC on Sunday.
The English champions went into this game as underdogs and perhaps that was no surprise. Arsenal have been knocked out at this stage of the competition for the past two seasons and have lost Kelly Smith, Alex Scott and Karen Carney since their last European adventure.
In contrast, Duisburg are widely tipped to follow up last year's UEFA Women's Cup triumph with it's revamped successor, the Women's Champions League trophy.
The Germans started strongly, hitting the bar inside the first 10 minutes, so it was no surprise when they opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Kim Little was adjudged to have handled the ball on the goal-line and Grings stepped up to send Emma Byrne the wrong way from the spot.
Rachel Yankey had Arsenal's first shot of the match moments later but Duisburg were still making most of the running and they had another penalty appeal turned down just after the half-hour mark when Faye White challenged Grings.
The Germans doubled their lead just after the interval when Hegering broke through the Arsenal back line and slid the ball under the advancing Byrne. The visitors looked in trouble but, to their credit, they re-doubled their efforts and found a way back into the tie.
Yankey and Gemma Davison both went close before Arsenal found a vital away goal through the unlikeliest of sources - Grings. Little's free-kick caused consternation in the Duisburg defence and Grings headed into her own net.
Grings had a chance to make amends seconds later but squandered a gilt-edged chance from six yards. And although Duisburg hit the bar again in the closing stages, Arsenal stood firm to set up a mouth-watering second leg on Sunday.
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Referee: Jenny Palmqvist (Sweden)