Arsenal Ladies 2-3 Olympique Lyonnais Feminin
Lyon progressed to the UEFA Women's Champions League final thanks to a dominant first half performance, despite Arsenal threatening a sensational comeback in the dying stages.
By David Brenchley
Arsenal pulled two goals back in the last half an hour through Julie Fleeting and Ellen White but the damage had already been done before the interval by Eugenie Le Sommer (2) and Lara Dickenmann.
Le Sommer put the visitors into a two goal lead; the first after a ball over the top from Wendie Renard with Gunners keeper Emma Byrne coming out to gather but missing the ball.
Le Sommer then had the simplest of tasks, slotting into an open net. If her first was easy, her second was magical. Lotta Schelin laid the ball on to the left of the penalty area and Le-Sommer curled a beauty into the bottom far corner with the outside of her right boot.
If they weren't already, the French side were well out of sight when Dickenmann pounced on a weak goal kick from Byrne and poked into the unguarded net on the stroke of half time to put her side 5-0 up on aggregate.
The hosts did not lay down, though, and substitute Fleeting got on the end of the ever-impressive Rachel Yankey's cross after 68 and White scored a carbon-copy on 86.
It wasn't to be in the end for Arsenal, who had seemed to make the brighter start as Jordan Nobbs was unlucky not to see her 20-yard volley find the back of the net after just 22 seconds, but Sarah Bouhaddi did well to tip onto the post.
Lyon saw that as a wake up call and proceeded to show their class from then on. Amandine Henry looked good down the right, setting up chances for Dickenmann and Camille Abily.
Le Sommer sent out a couple of warning shots, one of which was well saved by Byrne, before doubling her side's advantage in the 16th and 34th minutes.
Going into the break five goals down in the tie was always going to be difficult for the Gunners to come back from but they gave it their best shot in the second period.
Yankey tried to carve an opportunity out for herself on the left wing but her piledriver was too close to the keeper to make her work.
Lyon still had a say in the game, even after Fleeting had pulled the first back on 68 minutes, and substitute Louisa Necib had a couple of long range chances.
White had another effort before she scored Arsenal's second but her volley went over and Katie Chapman, who took over the captain's armband from the replaced Faye White, had a last minute shot tipped over by Bouhaddi.
Goal scorer White was disappointed to be out of the competition but has backed her team mates to bounce back in their domestic campaign, starting with their first home game of the FA WSL season against Bristol Academy on Thursday.
"We didn't really go at them like we said we would," she said, "so it was a pretty dodgy [first] 25 minutes and they scored three goals in the first half, which isn't what we wanted.
"I think we showed a lot of heart and pride in the second half. A lot of teams might have crumbled but we stuck together, got a couple of goals and showed what we are all about.
"It is disappointing to miss out on a Champions League final but we have a lot to look forward to - an FA Cup semi final against Barnet and the WSL. We have to re-group and move onto the next game."
White moved from Leeds to Arsenal this summer and has enjoyed her first taste of European football, which has seen her score three goals in the competition including her one today.
"Obviously it is always nice to score but it would have been nicer if it had been the winner and we were through to the final," she added.
"The Champions League has been a whole different world for me and it has been really exciting. Playing in front of 20,000 away to Lyon was unbelievable, I can't really put it into words."
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
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