Gunners Euro heartbreak

Brian Jeeves

Arsenal Women v VfL Wolfsburg Ladies Women’s Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg – Emirates Stadium – Report

Arsenal Women 2-3 VfL Wolfsburg Ladies 3

(Wolfsburg Ladies won 4-5 on aggregate)

By Dave Bishop

A mistake by defender Lotte Wubben-Moy gifted substitute Pauline Bremer the winning goal with just a minute of extra time left as Arsenal Women were heartbreakingly denied a spot in the Women’s Champions League Final in Eindhoven as VfL Wolfsburg came through 3-2 winners on the night (5-4 on aggregate) at a sold-out Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal took the lead in the eleventh minute when Stina Blackstenius battled past the Wolfsburg backline to slide the ball past keeper Merle Frohms, before the Germans hit back when captain Alexandra Popp – ruled out of the first leg with a calf injury – set up former Arsenal player Jill Roord to make it 1-1 on the night.

Blackstenius’ close-range finish was disallowed by VAR shortly after the break before Popp then flicked home a near post header from a simple set piece just before the hour mark to put the visitors 2-1 (4-3) up.

With Jen Beattie rising to head home the equaliser – from an inch-perfect Wubben-Moy cross, with fifteen minutes remaining, Arsenal, roared on by a record 60,063 crowd had renewed hope of reaching their first Champions League Final since lifting the trophy in 2007. 

However, with the game going into extra time despite the Gunners looking the more threatening of the two sides, they could not find a late goal and with the tie looking increasingly as if it would be decided on penalties, England defender Wubben-Moy, although appearing to have time on the ball, was caught in possession by substitute Jule Brand, who played in former Manchester City striker Bremer to tap the ball in from close range at the far post to win the game for Wolfsburg at the death.

Speaking at his press conference after the game, Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall spoke in support of Wubben-Moy: “I told her to keep her head high. I told her there’s no need to apologise. 

“Mistakes happen in football. We win as a team; we lose as a team. We’re there for each other. It’s inevitable that it happens. It’s part of the game. She was absolutely fantastic. We are there for each other both when we have success and when there’s pain.”

A memorable but disappointing night for the Gunners who despite having to play without several key players – including captain Kim Little, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, pushed the German league champions all the way – only in the end to come up just a fraction short.

Arsenal Women: Zandbergen, Maritz (Weirather 64’) (Kuhl 82’) Wubben-Moy, Beattie (Agyemang 120+1’) Rafaelle, Catley, Pelova, Maanum, Walti, McCabe, Blackstenius (Hurtig 64’) Subs not used: D’Angelo, Marckese, Goldie, Harbert, Reid

VfL Wolfsburg Ladies: From, Wilms (Hege ring 106’) Hendrich, Janssen, Rauch, Oberdorf, Roord (Blomqvist 120+2’) Huth (Bremer 90’) Popp, Jonsdottir (Brand 101’) Pajor (Wassmuth 77’) Subs not used: Kassen, Weiss, Arges, Demann, Wolter, Wedemeyer

Referee: Lina Lehtovaara

Attendance: 60,063

Brian Jeeves