Arsenal Ladies put one foot in the Champions League quarter–finals with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Glasgow City at The Hive.
Steph Houghton put the hosts ahead with a header on 14 minutes and Danielle Carter doubled their advantage just before half-time.
Ellen White‘s header rounded off the win to give Shelley Kerr’s side a healthy lead to take up to Scotland for the second leg on Wednesday.
SETTING THE SCENE
Kerr made two changes to the side that thrashed Kairat 11-1 in their last outing.
Houghton returned to skipper the side in place of Yvonne Tracy and Rachel Yankey was preferred over Gemma Davison on the left flank.
Carter and Jordan Nobbs were both given starts after signing new contracts with the Club on Friday.
There was also a return for Kelly Smith who played the final 15 minutes after spending nearly seven months on the sidelines with a shin injury.
The Arsenal manager knew her team would be in for a tougher ride than the previous round with Eddie Wolecki Black’s side intent on taking something back to Petershill Park for the return leg.
Conditions were made difficult by a rain-sodden outfield but both sides, to their credit, tried to get the ball down on the surface and there was some excellent football played at times.
Unsurprisingly, the Gunners made the early running. In the 12th minute, Kim Little exchanged passes with Nobbs before firing an effort high over the bar. A minute later, White had a header that was well held by Lee Alexander. But Kerr’s side didn’t have to wait much longer to take the lead.
On 14 minutes, Yankey floated in a corner from the right and Houghton rose above her marker to power home a header past Alexander. It was a deserved opener for Arsenal.
Glasgow had their first effort on goal in the 19th minute when Jess Fishlock touched the ball off for Christie Murray but her shot flew wide.
But it was the home side who continued to dominate as Eddie Black’s side struggled to get out of their own half at times. Emma Mitchell saw an effort go just over in the 24th minute when City failed to clear their lines before Nobbs made a burst into the box but couldn’t pick out one of her team-mates.
Carter perhaps should have put the Gunners further ahead on 30 minutes after latching onto a clever pass from White but her shot was straight at Alexander.
Five minutes later, Nobbs came close to making it two after neat interplay from White and Houghton which led to the England midfielder picking up the ball on the edge of the box and firing a low effort just wide.
Arsenal’s second arrived three minutes before half-time. Houghton’s cross was missed by two Glasgow defenders and Carter was on hand to finish past Alexander from close range.
It was a controlled performance in the second half by Arsenal - keeping a clean sheet became the priority.
The Gunners created little until the 64th minute when White put the game, and possibly the tie, beyond Glagsow. Yankey drove in a deep cross towards the England forward who sent a looping header over Alexander.
Five minutes later, Carter almost made it four when her shot from the edge of the box cannoned off the bar.
The visitors then had Alexander to thank for a smart save from Nobbs after the midfielder surged into the penalty area. Alexander made another good save on 84 minutes - this time denying a dipping strike from substitute Davison.
The Gunners struck the woodwork for the second time in the closing minutes when Yankey saw her arrowed effort hit the bar.
City rarely threatened in the second period and goalkeeper Emma Byrne became a mere spectator as the game drew to a close.
It was a fine afternoon’s work for Kerr’s team.
Referee: Teodora Albon (ROU)
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