Wolfsburg 2-2 Arsenal: Women’s Champions League semi-final first leg, summary, match report, analysis
Arsenal fought back from two goals down to take a positive result back to London for the return leg of the tie.
Everything is to play for in London. Wolfsburg and Arsenal fought to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final in Germany, which leaves an intriguing return game on May 1. Jónsdóttir took advantage of an Arsenal side who were depleted at the back, with the Icelandic forward getting the assist for Ewa Pajor and scoring the second herself.
The tie looked over at that point as Wolfsburg sailed into a 2-0 lead in the first 25 minutes, but Arsenal bounced back and are alive for the game that is to be played at the Emirates. Rafaelle, just before half-time, and Blackstenius, with 20 minutes to go, grabbed the all important goals to turn the game on its head.
Arsenal came into the game with a huge cloud over their heads: the injury to captain and figurehead Leah Williamson, another broken ACL in women’s football, was added to the losses of Mead and Miedema. Manager Jonas Eidevall had to call up various young players from the ranks to fill up the bench, such as Teyah Goldie (18-years-old), Katie Reid (16), Michelle Agyeman (17) and Laila Harbert (16). As for the home side, Alexandra Popp and Lena Lattwein watched on from the stands: Oberdorf and Pajor were the two sources of hope.
One led the way from the middle and the other pointed to shoot; Jónsdóttir made sure everything was easier for the two firecrackers. The Icelandic winger was up for the game right from the off and the Arsenal defence were bailing water right from the moment in which the whistle blew, Wolfsburg already with the turbos at full tilt.
It took 18 minutes for the scoreboard to light up. A long ball to the edge of the box was taken down on the chest by Jónsdóttir, who brought it down and slid a pass through to Pajor to score with a shot across goal. The UWCL top scorer was determined to be in the final this year. The same goes for the rest of the team, who scored with their next chance on goal.
A mistake in Arsenal’s buildup led to a horizontal pass across goal from Rafaelle that Beattie was not ready for allowed Jónsdóttir to slip in and tap into goal from close range.
Arsenal reacted, and for the first time in the game took the ball and started to play with it. Maanum, on 44 minutes, tried out the reflexes of Frohms, the Wolfsburg goalkeeper, from close range, who sent the shot out for a corner. Rafaelle made up for her earlier error by heading in a wonderful cross at the far post from Catley, causing the mood inside the stadium changed: now it was Arsenal who wanted more.
Tommy Stroot’s side could have grabbed goal number three just before the break, but Jónsdóttir’s shot went over the bar. The number 23 for the home team continued to be a threat all game, despite the possession, chances and shots in the second half all becoming a lot more equal. Arsenal rode through the bumpy waters and came out on the other side: Blackstenius the name in lights after Pelova made sure she just had to make the ball cross the white line with a wonderful pass across the box.
The final battle before the real final battle will take place at the Emirates Stadium, just 8 days away.