Arsenal reach Women’s Champions League semi-finals for first time since 2013
Arsenal reached the Women’s Champions League semi-finals after a dominating opening 45 minutes helped overturn a first-leg deficit and see off Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate.
Trailing to a Lea Schuller goal in Germany last week, the hosts recovered from the early loss of captain Kim Little to win 2-0 in front of 21,307 fans at the Emirates Stadium.
A fine Frida Maanum strike set them on their way before Stina Blackstenius’ header settled the tie.
Football. The Arsenal way. pic.twitter.com/a3iLNRWs8N
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) March 29, 2023
The margin of victory should have been much more comfortable but for a fine goalkeeping display from Maria-Luisa Grohs and some wayward finishing from the Arsenal forwards.
Jonas Eidevall has now guided the Gunners to their first Champions League semi-final since 2013, when they lost to Wolfsburg – who also knocked Arsenal out in the quarter-finals last season.
The Germans could again be standing in the way this time around as they lead Paris St Germain 1-0 on aggregate with the winners meeting Arsenal in the last four.
Captain Little was tripped as she looked to maraud into the Bayern half with their defence all out of position in the 10th minute. Remarkably, no free-kick was given but Little was unable to continue, replaced by Lotte Wubben-Moy as birthday girl Leah Williamson took both the armband and Little’s place in the heart of midfield.
The positional shift would play a part in Arsenal breaking the deadlock as Williamson directed a deft flick into the path of Maanum, who bent home a fine opener for the hosts.
Maanum was in again soon after but could not nick the ball off the toe of Grohs as she looked to intercept a weak back-pass.
Bayern have leaked just four goals in the Frauen Bundesliga this season but Arsenal’s lead would be doubled before the half-hour as Katie McCabe worked enough space for a cross from the left and Blackstenius nodded in from close-range.
It could have got even better before the break but Williamson missed a decent chance with a header and Blackstenius was denied by Grohs before Maanum’s follow-up was blocked.
Grohs was keeping the visitors alive in the tie, saving a close-range header from Blackstenius before Wubben-Moy’s misplaced cross cannoned back off the crossbar.
The second half started on a much more even keel. Bayern finally wrestled back some level of possession as two corners caused problems in the Arsenal box and Wubben-Moy made an important block to keep out a Klara Buhl strike.
Grohs was at it again moments later, diving low to tip a McCabe shot wide after the Republic of Ireland international had danced into the penalty area.
When Grohs was not in the position to keep Arsenal at bay, it was more profligate finishing for the hosts that failed to kill off the tie as Caitlin Foord ballooned a fine chance over the crossbar having been rolled in 12 yards from goal.
McCabe limped off late on to present Eidevall with another injury concern but he will be pleased his Continental Cup winners have at least two more games to add to their packed fixture schedule as they chase further glory this season.