By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal Ladies are through to the last 16 of the Women's Champions League after completing a 12-1 aggregate victory over ZFK Masinac with a comprehensive 9-0 victory at Boreham Wood on Thursday afternoon.
An enthusiastic crowd of just over 300 was treated to a goal fest as a brace from Kim Little and goals from Rachel Yankey, Ellen White, Gemma Davison, Jordan Nobbs, Jayne Ludlow and an own goal gave the Gunners a comfortable win.
In all honesty it was too easy for Laura Harvey’s side as they showed their superior technical quality and physical strength to dominate the Serbian champions.
Harvey gave home debuts to summer signings Steph Houghton and Ellen White as Arsenal set up with White as a lone striker though Yankey and Davison were willing supporters from both flanks.
The Serbian side started nervously and the floodgates opened after 18 minutes when Yankey opened the scoring. The England international had already been denied twice in the opening quarter of an hour before she eventually got her reward. White beat Hristina Sampanidis on the right and when her low cross was missed by goalkeeper Allysa Clark, Yankey had the simplest of tap-ins to put the Gunners in front.
The lead was doubled after 22 minutes as Little and White combined brilliantly. White picked up the ball inside the area and played a neat one-two with Little before placing her shot into the far corner. The floodgates began to open.
Four minutes later Arsenal, or should I say Little, scored a third. The Scot received the ball in the middle of the Masinac half and with very little on decided she would go it alone. She dribbled her way past three defenders before calmly slotting a left-footed shot under Clark to increase the lead further.
Three minutes before half time Little got her second and Arsenal’s fourth. Davison got the byline before pulling the ball back to on the waiting Little 12 yards out. She had time to steady herself before drilling a shot into the net. If they weren’t already in control then the Gunners certainly were now.
Harvey’s side were dominating possession and controlling the pace of the game while the Serbian side offered next to nothing as an attacking threat with Marija Radoyicic a lonely figure in the Arsenal half.
The rain started pouring down as the second period got underway though it would take more than that to stop the Gunners' onslaught.
After 52 minutes Davison made it five with a spectacular curling effort. Little worked a short corner well and Davison's finish would rival her team-mate's individual goal from the first half. Davison let the ball run through her legs to beat a defender before finding the top corner with a wonderful 20-yard strike.
Three minutes it was six. Yankey crossed from the left and after some suspect attempted clearances, half-time substitute Nobbs was on hand to fire home.
Nobbs somehow managed to head over from a yard before the already tired Serbians were reduced to ten players when Ivana Kostic was shown a second yellow card with 19 minutes still to play.
With 11 minutes left Little had the chance to grab her hat-trick when she went one on one with Clark inside the area. Unselfishly she opted to square the ball for Davison and when Masinac defender Hristina Sampanidis slid in to cut the ball out she diverted it into the net to make it seven.
Substitute Danielle Carter made it eight when she finished well from Davison’s cross with five minutes remaining.
Ludlow added a ninth in injury time and, thankfully for the Serbians, Russian referee Marina Mamayeva called time on the game
Spanish side Rayo Vallecano await Harvey’s side in the next round in what promises to be a much tougher test for the Gunners.
Referee: Marina Mamayeva (RUS)
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