Arsenal 2-0 Bayern Munich (2-1 ag): Superb Gunners book a place in the Women’s Champions League semi-finals
Barely 10 minutes had been played when Little was forced to retire after being knocked down by Bayern Munich midfielder Sarah Zadrazil.
Arsenal have already entered the second leg of this quarter-final with a hill to climb after losing 1-0 at Munich last week. Suddenly, this hill had become a mountain.
Not that you would have known, as the Gunners put in a brilliant performance to reach their first Champions League semi-final in a decade. In the end they were 2-0 winners on the night, but it could easily have been so much more.
Even without star strikers Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, who will miss the rest of the season with knee injuries, Arsenal’s attack has shone and they have opened up Bayern at will.
Frida Maanum opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a goal that Mead and Miedema would have been proud of.
The ball came to Maanum on the edge of the box after Leah Williamson, who took over as captain and moved into midfield when Little got injured, Cruyff fed it to him. Without hesitation, Maanum released the first shot and smashed the ball on the post.
It was the take-off the Gunners needed in the draw and the 21,307 inside the Emirates Stadium – an Arsenal record for a European women’s home game – started to make the noise Williamson had claimed before this second leg.
Seven minutes later it was 2-0. This time Katie McCabe passed her opponent on the left and Stina Blackstenius had the easier header.
Much has been said about Bayern’s formidable defense ahead of that draw and the fact that they have conceded just four goals in 16 league appearances this season en route to the top of the Bundesliga. However, they were all at sea in the first half here, and the main gripe Eidevall will have had is that his side didn’t kill the game.
Williamson missed a glorious header from six yards out, Blackstenius was twice denied by Bayern keeper Maria-Luis Grohs and Lotte Wubben-Moy hit the crossbar. It could easily have been 6-0 at halftime.
Arsenal feared they would be paid for their lack of efficiency in front of goal, but Bayern only got the shot on target in the 89th minute. Before that, the closest they came was when Klara Buhl cut inside on the hour mark and saw an effort blocked by Wubben-Moy.
Other than that, Arsenal dominated the second half and even more chances were begging. Caitlin Foord was the biggest culprit, blazing over the bar from 12 yards out when the goal was gaping after a nice flick from Maanum.
Luckily for Arsenal and Eidevall, it didn’t matter and the Gunners are through to the semi-finals – where they will face either Paris Saint-Germain or Wolfsburg.
The opportunity for another historic night in the Emirates is on the table.