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Arsenal hopes hit by late strike
 Women's Football News 16 Apr 2012
 
Arsenal 1 (Grant 69) FFC Frankfurt 2 (Crnogorcevic 64, Garefrekes 90)
Arsenal face an uphill task to reach the UEFA Women's Champions League final after a last gasp Kerstin Garefrekes goal gave FFC Frankfurt a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their semi final at Boreham Wood. 
 
Although the Gunners had dominated the first half, the German team were the sharper after the break and Arsenal fell behind. It seemed that the home team, having quickly equalised, might emulate their comeback of the previous round against Goteburg, but the Gunners never really managed to establish a rhythm in their play and were undone at the end.

Frankfurt, already missing star players Fatmire Bajmaraj, Nadine Angerer and Saskia Bartusiak were further weakened when Sandra Smisek was forced off with an injury in the first half. Arsenal had forced the first save from Desiree Schumann when Alex Scott cut in on eight minutes and then Jayne Ludlow was wide with a flying header from a precise cross from Ellen White.
 
Schumann was later forced into an excellent save by a wickedly swerving Steph Houghton free kick,parrying the ball wide of her right hand post. Frankfurt's first worthwhile effort came on 35 minutes with a Melanie Beringer free kick just wide from 35 yards but Arsenal were comfortable at the back for most of the half.

Frankfurt returned with greater urgency in attack and Anna Maria Crnogorcevic had a good chance early on. Beringer was instrumental in driving Frankfurt forward and her driven free kick was nearly headed home by Sasai Kumagai as the visitors dominated. Smisek's replacement Dzenifer Marozan was also very lively and her precise pass released Crnogorcevic who finished expertly past a stranded Emma Byrne from ten yards just after the hour.
 
Arsenal needed a quick reply and on 68 minutes Ciara Grant provided an equaliser, stealing in unmarked beyond the far post to head in a deep Steph Houghton corner.

Danielle Carter was introduced to the Gunners attack and provided a moment of danger with a run and cross which led to a shot just wide from Niamh Fahey but Schumann was rarely troubled again as the visitors were content to contain the Arsenal attacks. As the game entered the last of three added minutes Frankfurt struck a potentially decisive blow to Arsenal's ambitions. Sub Kim Kulig had tested Byrne from distance but it was Svenja Huth who set up the winner, taking a Ria Percival throw in and crossing for Garefrekes to get beyond Scott and guide the ball at full stretch wide of Byrne from close in.

Arsenal will need to find far more midfield creativity to outwit the Frankfurt defence to forge a two-goal advantage which will turn this semi final tie around. After the first quarter of an hour, they rarely threatened except from the occasional set piece and were unable to overcome the solid defensive block in front of them.

Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Niamh Fahey, Jayne Ludlow, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Kim Little (sub Gemma Davison 89mins), Ellen White (sub Danielle Carter 67mins), Alex Scott, Rachel Yankey (sub Jordan Nobbs 81mins). Sube not used: Nicole Adams, Yvonne Tracy, Jennifer Beattie, Hayley Ladd.

FFC Frankfurt: Desiree Schumann, Gina Lewandowski, Meike Weber, Saki Kumagai, Svenja Huth, Ria Percival, Melanie Behringer, Kerstin Garefrekes, Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, Sandra Smisek (sub Dzenifer Marozsan 33mins), Jessica Landstrom (sub Kim Kulig 78mins). Subs not used: Anne-Kathrine Kremer, Sara Thunebro, Silvana Chojnowski, Jasmin Herbert.
 
 
(Report by Patrick Higgins)

 
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