By Nik Brumsack at Meadow Park
Second-half strikes from Katie Chapman and Ellen White gave Arsenal Ladies the advantage in their Champions League last-16 tie against 2010 winners FFC Potsdam - but Yuki Ogimi’s spectacular late goal gave the visitors hope ahead of next week’s return tie in Germany.
Arsenal had dominated for large periods before Chapman gave Laura Harvey’s team the lead after 70 minutes. White extended that lead 13 minutes later, but Ogimi’s late effort ensured the visitors left Meadow Park with a valuable away goal.
Harvey made two changes from the team that retained the Continental Cup three weeks ago. Gemma Davison and the fit-again Jordan Nobbs returned in place of Ciara Grant and White.
Steph Houghton, who had been deployed in central midfield last time out, partnered Gilly Flaherty at centre half, while Kelly Smith led the line with support from Rachel Yankey and Davison on the wings.
Harvey had spoken in midweek about the importance of making home advantage count - an instruction which her team set about heeding with a fine first-half display full of vigour and endeavour.
Alex Scott rifled a speculative effort just off target from 20 yards before Yankey created the chance of the half after 18 minutes, whipping in a pinpoint cross that Smith contrived to steer over the bar.
Arsenal were dominating play with Yankey and Davison causing all manner of problems for the Potsdam defence.
They could have had a penalty 26 minutes in, when Nobbs tangled with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the box after a searching Yankey pass had created the chance. The referee, though, was unmoved and waved play on.
The German champions were struggling to get into the game, often resorting to niggling fouls to disrupt Arsenal’s ever-growing momentum.
But despite looking second best, the visitors did come close to breaking the deadlock just before the break - with a chance presented to them by Arsenal.
Miscommunication between Nobbs and Emma Byrne allowed Patricia Hanebeck to nip in. She was soon crowded out by retreating defenders though, and eventually shot over the bar.
After a quiet start to the second half, Harvey’s team sprang into life - with the outstanding Davison again the catalyst.
First, her reverse pass set Little through on goal, though Naeher raced out and stopped the free-scoring midfielder in her tracks. Then the fleet-footed winger charged at the defence before sending in a low shot that was tipped wide.
After seeing their first-half dominance go without reward, Harvey’s team were again doing everything but hitting the back of the net after the break.
They finally found the breakthrough with 20 minutes to go, when Yankey’s inswinging corner was knocked home by captain Chapman.
That opened the game up, with desperate defending preventing both Winters and Evans from equalising at one end, before Little was again thwarted by Naeher at the other.
But Arsenal did eventually extend their lead with just seven minutes to play. Little intercepted Ogimi’s weak pass before freeing substitute White. The striker took a touch to settle herself before sliding a shot between Naeher’s legs and in.
Skipper Ogimi made amends for that error on the stroke of full time, volleying spectacularly over Byrne from range to give the visitors a timely boost ahead of next week’s return leg.
Referee: Esther Azzopardi (MLT)
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