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Arsenal Ladies out of Champions League after Birmingham defeat
Arsenal Ladies were knocked out of the Champions League after a disappointing 3-0 aggregate defeat to Birmingham in the quarter-finals.
First half goals from Kirsty Linnett and Remi Allen, who also scored in the first leg, secured a 2-0 win for Birmingham at The Hive on Sunday.
Shelley Kerr kept faith with the side that lost last week’s first leg. New signing Shinobu Ohno started in midfield alongside Caroline Weir and Jade Bailey, with Dan Carter and Rachel Yankey providing width for lone striker Kelly Smith.
Birmingham started well and should have led inside 90 seconds. A mix-up between Emma Byrne and Emma Mitchell presented Karen Carney with a chance but she failed to hit the target from a tight angle.
That seemed to spark Arsenal into life and they responded with a chance of their own soon after. Mitchell’s floated pass sent Ohno through but her shot lacked power and was gathered comfortably by Birmingham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.
A few minutes later Caroline Weir fired just over for Arsenal from the edge of the box before Alex Scott saw a header saved by Spencer.
Spencer was called into action again soon after when she produced a brilliant save to tip Ohno’s goalbound effort around the post.
With 25 minutes gone, Birmingham made Arsenal pay for those missed chances. A long ball from Spencer was flicked on by Carney and Linnett broke through the Arsenal defence before placing the ball expertly into the bottom corner.
If that was a blow to Arsenal, Birmingham’s second goal just five minutes later was the final nail in the coffin.
Carney was involved again. Her low cross from the right evaded everyone in the box apart from the gleeful Allen, who finished high into the net to effectively put the tie to bed.
To their credit, Arsenal went for it after the break. After Weir was denied by Spencer, Smith rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 30 yard free-kick and Ohno couldn’t convert the rebound.
On the hour, substitute Freda Ayisi was the next to draw a save from Spencer before the former Arsenal goalkeeper did well to hold a deflected effort from Yankey.
As the clock ticked down, Carter dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box before Jade Moore almost sealed the win for Birmingham with an effort that just missed the target.
The final whistle was greeted by raucous celebrations from the Birmingham players as they reached the last-four of the Champions League for the first time.
For Arsenal manager Shelley Kerr, the two legs will have given her plenty of food for thought and they will have to regroup and prepare for what is likely to be the most competitive WSL season yet.
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