By Alex Henderson
Arsenal Ladies made a solid start to UEFA Women’s Cup Group B3 by picking up three points and scoring seven goals against Swiss champions FC Zurich Frauen on Thursday night.
It was a foggy evening in Lyon but the Gunners’ ambitions were clear from the team put out by Vic Akers. Attackers Niamh Fahey and Kim Little were selected for their European debuts. Gemma Davison, on the right wing, would also complete 90 minutes in this competition for the first time.
They would all make contributions. Little got a hat-trick, Davison was one of Lyon’s main tormentors and Fahey would register an unfortunate own goal.
Arsenal rattled up a sizeable shot tally on the night. It began as early as the second minute when Faye White fired wide from a corner. But Arsenal remained positive and, soon afterwards, Davison made her first raid of many down the right wing, finishing with a shot that was somehow cleared off the line by Zurich’s troubled defence.
In the eighth minute Arsenal scored the first goal of the evening. Karen Carney collected a great pass from Little, crossed to Davison on the edge of the box who shot hard and low past Stenia Michel.
Zurich responded and stepped up their game to level the match after five minutes of Arsenal dominance. Romana Lendenmann received the ball just outside the six-yard box and hammered it past Emma Byrne. It was a disappointing goal to concede so soon after Arsenal’s promising start.
Akers’ side kept their heads held high however, and banged in two further goals before the break. A Kelly Smith special from 25 yards put Arsenal back on top in the 36th minute. Then Little followed Davison’s lead by securing her first European goal in the 38th minute, converting a superb cross from the right wing.
After the break, Zurich came out of the changing rooms with the positive attitude required of them and nearly scored in the 47th minute after Byrne struggled to clear a low shot from Selina Zumbühl. Carmen Imhasly collected the loose ball in a dangerous position but the Irish keeper recovered well.
Arsenal soon found their shooting boots again. Jayne Ludlow made it 4-1 in the 51st minute when she fired a low shot to the right of the keeper.
The fifth goal for the Gunners came just four minutes later courtesy of a free-kick 40 yards from goal. Carney took it quickly, chipping the ball over a Zurich defender and Smith breezed past the keeper. The England international then unselfishly passed the ball to Ludlow who tapped in her second of the match.
Little continued the goal frenzy, scoring her second of the match in the 56th minute with a similar strike to her first. A Davison cross fell nicely for Little in the six yard box. She finished clinically.
Zurich now looked tired but were gifted a second goal in the 65th minute. Fahey looked to pass back to Byrne but poor communication left the goalkeeper diving one way and the ball going the other into the back of the net.
The final goal of the match came in the 90th minute after Dannii Bird was taken down in the opposition’s area. Little stepped up to take her first penalty for the Club, and calmly tucked the ball in the right hand corner of the net.
It completed her hat-trick on a successful evening for Arsenal Ladies.
|3.||FC Zürich Frauen||1||0||0||1||2||7||-5||0|
Referee: Natalia Avdonchenko (RUS)
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