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Women's Football News
Arsenal 1 (E.White 66) Linkopings 1 (Sallstrom 16)
Arsenal face a tricky UEFA Women's Champions League quarter final second leg in Sweden after being held to a
1-1 draw by Linkopings at Boreham Wood.
Falling behind to a fine goal from Linda Sallstrom on 16 minutes, the Gunners only really got going as an attacking force after Ellen White produced a even better equaliser from a very tight angle on 66 minutes. The Swedish team looked a well organised unit with a strong defence organised by Charlotte Rohlin and striker Sallstrom a constant menace, but Arsenal kept probing for a first leg winner and went close on two or three occasions.
Arsenal started rather untidily, losing the ball in midfield and misdirecting passes and Sallstrom nearly gave Linkopings the lead, being denied by a fine save by Emma Byrne to turn away at point blank range an attempted lob by Sallstrom. The game's outstanding player then burst clear of the Arsenal defence to the right of the penalty area and drove a right foot shot beyond Byrne to give the visitors a sixteenth minute lead.
Sallstrom nearly doubled the advantage before Arsenal had even threatened Sofia Lundgren's goal. Kim Little had a shot blocked from an Ellen White cut back and the Swedish keeper had to punch the corner away from Faye White as the Gunners finally threatened on 24 minutes.
Louise Fors made Byrne rise to catch a dangerous cross, then Sallstrom wriggled her way into the area and set up Kathryn Gill who shot straight at Byrne from 10 yards on 35 minutes.
Lundgren was again put under pressure by a high cross from Steph Houghton but punched away as Linkoping took a deserved lead into the break.
The key moment in the match came on the hour when Faye White was caught in possesion thirty yards from goal and the ball reached Sallstrom with a clear run on goal, slightly to the right. Byrne again rescued Arsenal as the ball deflected inches wide off her leg as she dived at the striker's feet.
This let off seemed to galvanise the home side. Lively substitute Danielle Carter added pace and power to the attack but it was Ellen White, hitting a powerful shot from wide out on the right, who got a brilliant equaliser on 66 minutes, the ball rocketing into the far corner of Lundgren's net.
The Gunners went in search of a lead to take to next week's return leg, Steph Houghton firing just over from 30 yards, Carter powering into the area to win a corner which Little took, forcing Lundgren to punch clear to late substitute Julie Fleeting who shot over the bar. Finally a Houghton free kick was headed over by Jennifer Beattie with the last move of the game.
Arsenal showed good determination to drive the Swedish team back and got better as the match progressed. They were too frequently caught in possession by Linkopings and put themselves under unnecessary pressure but may feel that they can catch the Swedes on the break in the away leg and grab at least one away goal. However they will need to guard against the threat of Sallstrom whose pace and trickery gave the Arsenal defence a very difficult first leg.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie, Faye White, Niamh Fahey, Rachel Yankey, Ciara Grant, Jordan Nobbs, Katie Chapman, Kim Little, Ellen White. Subs: Becky Spencer, Danielle Carter, Lauren Bruton, Brooke Nunn, Yvonne Tracy, Laura Coombs, Julie Fleeting.
Linkopings: Sofia Lundgren, Charlotte Rohlin, Louise Fors, Nora Holstad-Berge, Petra Larsson, Tilda Heimersson, Jessica Samuelsson, Linda Sallstrom, Ingrid Schelderup, Maja Krantz, Kathryn Gill. Subs: Tina Cederkvist, Kosovare Asllani, Elisabet Klinga, Ida Brannstrom, Jonna Andersson, Josafine Alfsson, Elin Borg.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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