GLASGOW City’s eagerly awaited Uefa Women’s Champions League showdown against Arsenal is now a reality after the Scottish champions swept Standard Liege aside at Petershill Park last night.
Glasgow C won 5-3 on aggregate
Scorers: Glasgow City - Mulvey (14), O’Sullivan (29), Crilly (55); Standard Liege - Wullaert (90)
Referee: M Mularczyk (Pol)
The spectators on the exposed side of the ground suffered a drenching, but it was cheerfully accepted as the home side had this last-32 tie wrapped up early in the second half. Sarah Crilly’s goal, the third for the home side, ensured there would be no way back for Standard Liege.
“It’s definitely as good a result as we’ve had in Europe,” said head coach Eddie Wolecki Black. “We have overcome a very good side and throughly deserved to win. A lot of effort went into it and we got a lot of things right.
“I gave the players a bit of stick after the 2-2 draw last week, but tonight I couldn’t fault them.”
Inevitably all attention will now be on the Arsenal tie as Wolecki Black conceded. “I would rather relax and think about what we did well tonight rather than think about Arsenal right now,” he said.
“That tie will come round soon enough but I can see the Battle of Britain headlines already.”
An early goal by Suzanne Mulvey put City in front for the first time in the tie following the 2-2 draw in Belgium, and captain Rachel Corsie said: “We were fired early and getting that goal really helped us on our way. We limited them very well and didn’t allow the game to stretch, which would have suited them.”
Both sides played well within themselves in the opening period, but any tension the home side was feeling disappeared with the opening goal in the 14th minute.
A high ball into the visitors’ box was contested by Mulvey and Aline Zeler, with the striker being credited with sending it past Sabrina Broos.
Although the visitors had two quick chances to equalise, the first hitting a post and the second forcing Lee Alexander to rush out of her box and clear the ball from Vanity Lewerissa, the longer the half went on the more City dominated.
Inspired by the outstanding Jess Fishlock, playing in front of the back four but running tirelessly into dangerous areas of the pitch, the home side passed their way through the Belgian champions in style.
Fishlock forced a good save from Broos after exchanging pases with Suzanne Lappin and firing in a 20-yard shot. The main danger to the home side was trying to play too neatly in front of their own box and Rachel Corsie was lucky not to be punished when she gave the ball away to Lewerissa, but the Standard striker failed to take advantage.
Despite this, City deservedly went ahead with a great goal just before the half-hour. Fishlock sent in a cross from the right and Denise O’Sullivan volleyed the ball home brilliantly from inside the box.
The Republic of Ireland internationalist hasn’t scored too many this season, but this was a valuable one.
Job half done, City nearly scored a third goal two minutes into the second half. An astute pass found Crilly unmarked on the right edge of the box and when her shot hit the bar, Jo Love’s header from the rebound was saved by Broos.
Love then lobbed the ball just over the bar after yet another attacking move instigated by Fishlock as the home side continued to press for the third goal which would kill off the tie.
It duly arrived in 55 minutes when Crilly’s high shot from a similar angle to her earlier one this time found the net.
With the tie in the bag, the home side eased off and it was Standard Liege who had the best chances, but Alexander in the home goal made fine saves from Tessa Wullaert and Faustine Cartegnie.
She was eventually beaten by Tessa Wullaert’s injury-time goal from close range which gave the visitors a crumb of comfort for the trip back to Liege.
Glasgow City: (4-1-4-1): Alexander; Ross, Corsie, McSorley, Docherty; Fishlock (Crichton 76); Crilly, Mulvey, Lappin, O’Sullivan (Murray 80), Love (Littlejohn 78).
Standard Liege: (4-3-1-2): Broos; Gregoire, Zeler, Coutereels, Cartegnie; Demoustier (Mourmans 83), De Gernier, Biesman; Schoenmaker (De Koker 63); Lewerissa (Loos 76), Wullaert.