Arsenal overturned a one-goal deficit to book a place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2013 after goals from Frida Maanum and Stina Blackstenius inspired a sensational 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at Emirates Stadium.
The Frauen-Bundesliga leaders, on a 14-game winning streak, held a 1-0 first-leg lead over the Gunners thanks to a Lea Schuller header, but the resurgent Londoners delivered a far more ruthless and clinical display on home turf, scoring twice within the first 26 minutes.
Maanum opened the scoring by firing a rocket into the top left hand corner of Maria-Luisa Grohs’ net (20), teed up by an instinctive Leah Williamson flick, before a determined Katie McCabe beat her defender and dinked a cross towards Blackstenius to finish with a towering header (26).
The game was much more even after the break, with Arsenal also having to contend with the loss of captain Kim Little to injury early on, but their backline remained rigid and defiant, keeping Bayern at arm’s length, before Caitlin Foord missed a fine opportunity to wrap the tie up with 20 minutes to go.
“If we hit it right we can beat any team,” Jonas Eidevall triumphantly commented post-match, while also revealing he received a message of congratulations from sporting directer Edu, who was in attendance alongside Mikel Arteta at the Emirates.
Eidevall’s side, who spurned several more gilt-edged chances to make the scoreline more comfortable, will now face either PSG or Wolfsburg for a place in the Champions League final on June 3.
- Arsenal: Jonas Eidevall named Victoria Pelova in his starting XI in place of Laura Wienroither. Pelova started Saturday’s 5-1 north London derby triumph over Tottenham but wasn’t in Eidevall’s selection in Munich last week.
- Bayern: The visitors one change saw Franziska Kett replace Sydney Lohmann in attack.
How slick Gunners booked semi-final spot
The margin of victory would have been much more comfortable but for a fine goalkeeping display from Grohs and some untidy finishing from Arsenal’s forward line.
Owing to Little’s early departure, deputy captain Williamson – celebrating her 26th birthday – was shunted further forward, with that positional shift playing a part in the home side’s well-worked opener.
The defender-cum-midfielder guided a deft flick into the path of Maanum on the edge of the area, and she bent home a stunning strike for her fifth Champions League goal of an impressive campaign.
Bayern, so resilient in domestic competition, have leaked just four league goals this term but were powerless to prevent the Gunners doubling their advantage before the half-hour mark when McCabe forced her way to the byline and Blackstenius nodded in from close range.
Goalkeeper Grohs was keeping the visitors alive in the second period, saving a point-blank header from Blackstenius before Lotte Wubben-Moy’s misplaced cross cannoned back off the crossbar. Foord then ballooned a wonderful chance over the crossbar having been rolled in smartly by Maanum 12 yards from goal.
McCabe limped off late on to present Eidevall with another injury concern but the Swede will be pleased his Continental Cup winners have at least two more games to add to their packed fixture schedule, as they chase a historic first European final since 2007.
“I don’t know [on the injury front],” the Arsenal boss told Sky Sports. “We need to use the hours this evening and tomorrow in order to get a clear understanding. When we have more information we will update.”
Eidevall: Potential to beat any team
Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall:
“It’s been a long-term goal to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. I am very happy that we’re going to the semi-finals. It’s an incredible achievement that we are so proud of – I told the players before the game, we have the potential to beat any team when we hit all things perfect.
“That doesn’t mean it’s easy or we can do it every time. But we now have that potential. So if we have that wouldn’t it be incredible and beautiful if we can bring that to one more stage in this competition, to see how strong our wings are, and how high we can fly together.
“We managed to do that today, that’s a proud moment for the whole club. If we hit it right we can beat any team. It also means there is a lot of work going into performances to be consistent. I don’t take anything for granted. We need to deal with every situation and do our very best.”
He added: “I got a very nice message from Edu after the game. The support from the whole club is magnificent. There is a lot of talk about always acting with class – you really understand the meaning of that when you’re inside the organisation. It’s engrained and it spreads. Communication and belief from them is amazing.”
Straus: ‘Sad’ to exit – Arsenal better team
Bayern Munich head coach Alexander Straus:
“Big congratulations to Arsenal, they have been really good in both legs. Today they were the better team and that is okay. Today we did something that we normally don’t do. We gave away the ball too easy.
“The first goal, we had warning signs. That is disappointing that we cannot adapt to the situation. They went high with their press. We could have pushed back, and gone more direct to explore the space. We didn’t do that in the right order.
“We’ve had 14 wins in a row. We lose a bit of confidence after the goal and that doesn’t need to happen. We have to keep being brave, but we stopped that. We were a bit shaky, to be honest.
“Today is a tough day for us but we don’t have time to dwell. Now we’re out. That is sad.”
Barca cruise past Roma
Barcelona cruised into the last four of the Champions League for the fifth straight year by routing Roma 5-1 in the second leg of their quarter-final.
They advance 6-1 on aggregate and will face defending champions Lyon or Chelsea in April’s semi-finals.
Fridolina Rolfo scored twice in the first half before Mapi Len added another to make it 3-0 by the break. Asisat Oshoala and Patri Guijarro scored two more shortly after interval, while Annamaria Serturini netted a consolation for Roma.
Arsenal have just one game before April’s international break, with Eidevall’s side hosting Manchester City on Sunday in a huge WSL showdown as the title race hurtles towards its conclusion – kick-off 12.30pm.
Bayern Munich’s next outing is also on Sunday, with the Frauen-Bundesliga leaders travelling to ninth-placed Meppen – kick-off 12pm.
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