UEFA Womens Champions League Academy Stadium Att:2876 Sunday, April 22, 2018 1:00:00 PM
- Bibiana Steinhaus
- Houghton (c)
- Lawley Emslie 88’
- Unused subs
- Roebuck, Jans, Middag, Nadim, Spetsmark, Ross.
- Van de Sanden Hamraoui 46’
- Marozsan Abily 83’
- Majri Cascarino 68’
- Le Sommer
- Unused subs
- Peyraud-Magnin, Houara-D'Hommeaux, Brian, Buchanan.
City’s Women’s Champions League dream is well and truly alive.
Nick Cushing’s Blues produced a superb, battling collective performance to earn a goalless draw in the Champions League semi-final first-leg clash with holders Lyon, maintaining a precious clean sheet to take to France next weekend.
Karen Bardsley and her defensive backline produced a sensational display to preserve the clean sheet, while the home side were unfortunate not to turn the draw into a victory with chances of our own.
It was a result and performance of true grit and determination – a show of a character and desire – and proof of City’s progression since their debut semi-final exploits last year.
Lyon dominated much of the early proceedings but found City difficult to break down. In the 2016/17 last four encounter in Manchester, the home side had broken the deadlock inside two minutes from the penalty spot but had no such luck on this visit as the hosts held firm.
The hosts responded well. Mel Lawley – a threat throughout – produced a fine piece of skill to clear her marker and sprint ahead. Her shot from the edge of the area was blocked but fell kindly for Izzy Christiansen but the England midfielder’s effort lacked the pace to trouble Sarah Bouhaddi in the Lyon goal.
Dzsenifer Marozsan then went close with a fizzing drive before Lawley was unfortunate not to open the deadlock, having been played through by Nikita Parris, who had done well to dispossess former teammate Lucy Bronze.
Wendie Renard and Le Sommer then saw their efforts inches away from breaking the deadlock in the last major action of the half.
The visitors continued where they left off after the restart. Bardsley was called into action twice in quick succession to thwart an Ada Hegerberg header and Le Sommer half-volley.
Georgia Stanway then floated a free-kick into the box in search of Houghton but the skipper – despite her best attempts – could not quite stretch to make contact.
Christiansen then went close with a sweetly-struck first-time effort from Parris’ knock-down as City grew in confidence, before Parris blazed over a volley from Beattie’s header down - moments after Bardsley had prevented the Scot from sliding the ball over her own line at the other end.
Lyon piled on the pressure from then on but the England shot-stopper proved impenetrable, thwarting Bronze, Camille Abily and Amandine Henry – the latter with a wonderful fingertip stop in the dying minutes.
Despite the pressure, the Blues hung on to gain a valuable clean sheet, which could prove all the difference in France next Sunday…
How we lined up…
The England shot-stopper was shielded by her usual backline of Demi Stokes, Jen Beattie, captain Houghton and McManus, plus defensive midfielder Keira Walsh. Christiansen and Jill Scott occupied the midfield, while Lawley and Parris were employed on the wings. The in-form Stanway led the line upfront.
The Blues travel to France next weekend for the return leg on Sunday 29 April (1:45pm BST).