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Arsenal 3 (Nobbs 25, Little pen 73, White 80) Gothenburg 1 (Ek 9)
Arsenal will take a two-goal advantage over to Sweden for the second leg of their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter final tie after recovering from an early setback at Boreham Wood.
Gemma Davison, who earlier in the week became the third player to rejoin from the United States, was on the bench whilst Gothenburg gave a debut in midfield to another familiar face, former Gunners player Anita Asante. Alex Scott started on the right of midfield but Kelly Smith missed the match with an ankle injury.
However Arsenal looked distinctly rusty during the early stages and struggled to get their passing game going. It turned out to be a disastrous start as Gothenburg took the lead with their first attack, although the goal was tinged with a little controversy.
Johanna Almgren picked up the ball and drove at the Arsenal defence before being brought down on the edge of the area by Niamh Fahey. With Arsenal still lining up their wall, Lisa Ek took the free kick quickly and her shot caught Emma Byrne off guard and went in off the post.
Arsenal could have found themselves two down but for the agility of Byrne, a long ball catching them out and Sara Linden held off Steph Houghton before producing a lob which Byrne held above her head.
With Gothenburg still looking dangerous and Asante showing up very well in midfield, Christen Press forced a good low save from Byrne and another strong run from Almgren took her into the area but good defending from Gilly Flaherty averted the danger.
Arsenal could not get going during the opening quarter but then put together a tremendous move which led to the equaliser. Katie Chapman spread the ball out to Ellen White on the left and the striker whipped in a cross which was nodded down by Jayne Ludlow into the path of Jordan Nobbs who swept her shot home from six yards.
The goal visibly lifted Arsenal and they began to get into their stride. Houghton drilled a 30-yard shot inches over the bar and another good move saw Nobbs find Scott on the right, where her low cross picked out Kim Little in the centre. Little laid the ball off to Nobbs but this time the midfielder's shot was blocked by Marlene Sjoberg.
Arsenal finished the first half on top but just before the interval, Flaherty - who had a superb match in the centre of defence - made a perfectly timed tackle in the area to prevent Linden from getting a free shot on goal.
Early in the second half, Arsenal were fortunate not to fall behind again as Press produced a fine turn in the area to evade two defenders before sliding the ball across goal but Anna Ahlstrand hit her shot against the bar from inside the six yard box.
That proved to be the pivotal point of the game as Arsenal took control of matters from that let off. They thought they had got in front for the first time when Nobbs found Little in the centre circle and the Scottish international released Houghton on the right. Houghton slipped her shot past Kristin Hammarstrom and White followed up to fire the ball home but an offside flag ruled out her effort.
Scott then went close as she latched onto a long ball from Houghton and lobbed her shot over the oncoming Hammarstrom but just wide of the post.
The introduction of Jennifer Beattie gave Arsenal a more physical presence up front and released Little into her most effective position, although Nobbs had played well and was rather unlucky to be substituted. Nevertheless the decision had its effect just two minutes later as Ludlow fed the ball into the area for Little who turned and was upended by Sjoberg for a penalty. Little picked herself up and made no mistake from the spot to give Arsenal the lead.
Little was in her element now and, after playing a one-two with Chapman, played a brilliant through ball into the path of White who finished expertly for the third goal.
It looked to be four as Scott's cross was met by a powerful header from Beattie but once again the flag went up for what appeared to be a very harsh decision.
Both teams had opportunities in the dying minutes, firstly Mimmi Lofwenius got away from Flaherty and Fahey in the area but just ran the ball out of play as she sought to set up a chance in the centre. Arsenal hit back and Rachel Yankey, on as a substitute just moments earlier, broke down the left and drove in a fine cross but Beattie just failed to connect with a header in front of goal.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Niamh Fahey, Jayne Ludlow, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Jordan Nobbs (sub Jennifer Beattie 71mins), Ellen White (sub Rachel Yankey 90mins), Kim Little, Alex Scott (sub Gemma Davison 84mins). Subs not used: Rebecca Spencer, Yvonne Tracy, Faye White, Danielle Carter.
Gothenburg: Kristin Hammarstrom, Anita Asante, Jane Tornqvist, Marlene Sjoberg, Lisa Ek, Anna Ahlstrand (sub Ingrid Wells 65mins), Catrine Johansson, Stina Segerstrom, Christen Press (sub Mimmi Lofwenius 76mins), Sara Linden (sub Linnea Liljegard 59mins), Johanna Almgren. Subs not used: Louise Hogrell, Olivia Schough, Beata Kollmats.
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