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Arsenal 2 Olympique Lyonnais 3
Lyon won 5-2 on aggregate
Arsenal's dream of participating in a UEFA Women's Champions League Final on home soil was dashed by three first half goals by Olympique Lyonnais at Boreham Wood on Saturday.
Already two down from the first leg, and missing hamstring injury victim Kim Little, the Gunners nearly scored in the first fifteen seconds of the return but were outplayed by a powerful performance by the French champions. Two late replies gave the final scoreline some respectability, but Emma Byrne had played really well to limit Lyon to three.
Jordan Nobbs very nearly gave Arsenal the start they craved, hitting a 30-yard lob which Sarah Bouhaddi acrobatically tipped on to the post. After this early let off, it was nearly all one way traffic
towards Byrne's goal. Lara Dickenmann and Camille Abily went close, then Eugenie Le Sommer shot straight at Byrne when played in by Lotta Schelin.
Although Faye White went close with a header from a Rachel Yankey corner, it was Le Sommer who opened the scoring, taking advantage of a defensive mix up to round Byrne and net unopposed on fifteen minutes.
The game evened out during the middle of the half, another Yankey corner causing Bouhaddi problems and Ellen White having a shot blocked. The excellent Schelin then set up Le Sommer's second on 33 minutes, slipping the ball to the young French international for a crisp first time finish.
Abily went close with an overhead effort from a corner, then Shirley Cruz had a shot well saved by Byrne. Gilly Flaherty cleared off the line from the subsequent corner but, in added time, Dickenmann was given time and space to drive a shot across Byrne to complete a wretched half for the Gunners.
With the tie lost, Arsenal had only pride to play for and they gave an improved showing, although Byrne had a string of saves to make as Amandine Henry, Schelin and sub Louisa Necib each
unleashed powerful long range efforts while Schelin also hit the post after a brilliant turn and shot.
Yankey, Arsenal's outstanding player, was able to find some space when Wendy Renard was rested on the hour. First she set up substitute Julie Fleeting on 64 minutes for a close range volley and then Ellen White five minutes from time for a clever near post finish. Katie Chapman nearly gave Arsenal a unlikely draw as her 30-yard shot was tipped over by a leaping Bouhaddi in added time.
It was a typically brave fightback from Arsenal, the sort which had got them against the odds as far as the semi final, but they were beaten by the better team, playing fast technical football which was a
pleasure to watch.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Ciara Grant, Faye White, Gilly Flaherty, Jordan Nobbs, Katie Chapman, Niamh Fahey, Ellen White, Danielle Carter, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Becky Spencer, Julie Fleeting, Jennifer Beattie, Bianca Bragg, Lauren Bruton.
Olympique Lyonnais: Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendy Renard, Laura Georges, Amandine Henry, Lotta Schelin, Eugenie Le Sommer, Shirley Cruz, Sonia Bompastor, Camille Abily, Sabine Viguier, Lara Dickenmann. Subs: Veronique Pons, Louisa Necib, Aurelie Kaci, Cindy Berthet, Amel Majri.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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