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Arsenal's dream of retaining the UEFA Women's Cup ended at the hands of Olympique Lyonnais in horrendous conditions at Boreham Wood.
Goals from Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey were not enough as the French outfit secured a 3-2 win on the night and on aggregate. Katia, Camile Abily and Elodie Thomis were on target for the visitors.
In the early exchanges it was the home side that were able to eke out the best openings. Katie Chapman was ruled offside after she had stroked the ball home from inside the box, and Fleeting twice came within inches of connecting with crosses from Lianne Sanderson.
Unseparable for 90 minutes a week ago, it took just 16 minutes for the deadlock to be broken this time around. Brazilian Katia was found unmarked at the back post and crashed a header past the despairing Emma Byrne. The away goal was a double blow for the Ladies and left them needing to score twice.
Arsenal's response was initially slow but with the roar of the home fans behind them, the equaliser arrived within seven minutes. Kelly Smith raced onto an incisive pass from Fleeting before slotting home under the advancing goalkeeper.
The second came in spectacular fashion just after the half hour. Yankey had originally failed to clear the near post with a corner, but when she was given another chance the England star curled the ball beautifully into the far corner.
However just five minutes later, the match was turned on its head one again. Abily jumped highest in the box, burying a Sonia Bompastor cross and handing the initiative back to Lyon. Bompastor, who Akers revealed could have joined Arsenal two years ago, was proving a menace down the left flank.
The tie was poised on a knife-edge and both teams looked nervous as the game restarted in the second half. Jayne Ludlow had a second disallowed goal for Arsenal ruled out for offside.
The runaway French league leaders continued to create the best of the chances and the hosts needed to call on some desperate defending to keep themselves in with a shout.
Their hopes were all but ended five minutes from time as Lyon struck a killer blow. Substitute Thomis was played through and despite the attentions of Anita Asante, she calmly nudged the ball underneath Byrne.
This time there was no coming back and Arsenal's hopes of becoming the first team ever to retain the UEFA Women's Cup came to a sad end, completing a miserable night overall for English football.
Photo - Jayne Ludlow tries to dispossess Shirley Cruz Trana (www.jamesprickett.co.uk).
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