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Houghton: I’m so proud of this Club

SKIPPER: Steph Houghton leads the team out in Lyon

SKIPPER: Steph Houghton leads the team out in Lyon

Steph Houghton spoke of her pride for Man City Women’s incredible achievement in the Champions League.

Nick Cushing’s side reached the semi-finals in their maiden campaign in Europe, falling to a 3-2 aggregate defeat to title-holders Lyon but emerging victorious in France with a 1-0 win.

Whilst disappointed not to make the final, captain Houghton declared she was honoured to lead the team to another historic landmark, adding the Blues will learn from their experience.

“I’m really proud of everyone connected to this football club,” she reflected.

“We wanted to be part of the Champions League and in our debut season, we’ve reached a semi-final and took Lyon to their place and beat them 1-0. It’s a fantastic achievement.

“We can take pride in our performance, which has kick-started our season in time for the Spring Series and the FA Cup final.

“It was an emotional game but ultimately, the gaffer is proud of us because we showed glimpses of what a world-class team we can be. Our aim is to be the best.

“It took us three years to win the league and everything we do is a process.

“We’ll look at how we can do better. Overall, they were the better team over two legs and they showed their class.

“We know that when we get beat, it’s a learning curve and we have to make sure it brings us more together as a squad. We have to kick on and show the quality we have.”

Houghton added the team will use the defeat as motivation to go a step further next year.

“For any girl that plays, Champions League football is the tournament you want to play in,” she continued. “We’ve done well this season but we always want more.

“Next year, we’ll want to get to the final and then win the trophy. We have to keep improving.

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“Every team gets better and we’ve learned that you have to perform over two games – not just have a 45-minute spell as the best team like we did in Lyon.

“We’ll be better and enjoy the occasions but in future, we’ll be able to use our experience and quality to get over the finish line.”

City have little time to dwell on the result with Wednesday’s Spring Series visit of Birmingham approaching.

The Solihull outfit proved one of the Blues’ most stubborn opponents in 2016 and Houghton is anticipating a similar test.

“We’re expect a difficult game,” she predicted. “When we played Birmingham last season, they were one of the best sides we played.

“They’re defensively well-organised and they’re a tough side but as always, we’ll concentrate on how we like to play, take heart from the second half performance in France and make sure we get the three points.”

Match Report

Report: Lyon 0-1 Man City Women

STRIKE: Carli Lloyd breaks the deadlock with a thunderous effort

Man City Women’s maiden adventure in the Champions League came to an end with a valiant 3-2 aggregate defeat to reigning champions Lyon.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg at the Academy Stadium, the Blues headed to France with a mountain to climb against the three-time winners but claimed a hard-fought 1-0 triumph at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, thanks to Carli Lloyd’s thunderous strike.

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Picture Special

Man City Women train at Parc Olympique Lyonnais