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A well taken goal by full back Chelsea Weston early in the second half saw Birmingham City complete a 4-0 aggregate victory over PK-35 Vantaa and reach the last sixteen of the UEFA Women's Champions League for the first time in their history.
The Blues took a three-goal advantage into the second leg at the DCS Stadium and pressed for an early goal to allay any fears of a fightback by the Finnish side. Kirsty Linnett had a shot saved and Melissa Lawley went even closer, working herself an opening before unleashing a 20-yard shot which hit the top of the bar.
Vantaa went close themselves when a Sanna Saarinen pass got caught in the swirling wind and deceived Kerys Harrop, allowing Hanne Ojanpera to break through on goal but her shot also struck the bar.
This proved to be a rare scare for Birmingham though and they battered their opponents for much of the remainder of the first half. Karen Carney was in lively form on the right and her far post cross picked out Emily Westwood whose header was saved by Paula Myllyoja and another Carney centre was swept goalwards by Linnett but straight at the keeper.
The hard working Linnett almost found a way through but was denied by a good challenge from Heidi Kivela and Myllyoja made a brave smothering save at the feet of Issy Christiansen. Lawley scooped a left foot shot over the bar after the Vantaa defence failed to clear a Jo Potter cross and Harrop was next to go close with a drive from the edge of the area which flashed inches over the bar.
Still Birmingham pressed but could not find a way through before the break. Weston's far post cross found Carney who took one touch before firing her shot just past the far post and Christiansen was unlucky not to score with a looping header which was clawed away by Myllyoja. The resulting corner saw a huge goalmouth scramble in which Jade Moore could not quite force the ball home.
The Blues had to wait until five minutes into the second half before they finally broke the deadlock. A clever reverse pass by Carney released an overlapping Weston on goal and she confidently beat Myllyoja with an angled shot which found the far corner of the net.
The goal ended the tie as a contest and the Vantaa players' hearts went out of the game. Both teams made a number of substitutions and in complete contrast to the first half, chances were few and far between once Birmingham had taken the lead.
Moore did go close with a 25-yard effort which was just wide and Katie Wilkinson was denied by a good interception from Kivela as she looked poised to score from Carney's cut back. Harrop headed over from a corner in the dying minutes but the Blues could not add to their lead.
Birmingham therefore look forward to a last sixteen tie against FC Zorkiy Krasnogorsk who eased through against Thor/KA, with the first leg to be played in Russia (dates to be confirmed).
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Kerys Harrop, Jade Moore, Emily Westwood (sub Aoife Mannion 72mins), Laura Bassett, Issy Christiansen (sub Katie Wilkinson 60mins), Melissa Lawley, Kirsty Linnett (sub Coral Haines 60mins), Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Mary Earps, Emily Simpkins, Cristina Torkildsen, Hannah George.
PK-35 Vantaa: Paula Myllyoja, Pirjo Leppikangas, Maiju Hirvonen, Tiia Peltonen, Heidi Kivela, Jenna Korhonen, Sanna Saarinen, Hanne Ojanpera (sub Iina Salmi 53mins), Jennifer Bisset (sub Lina Ruutu 63mins), Sanni Franssi (sub Netta Koso 76mins), Eveliina Parikka. Subs not used: Furtna Velaj, Laura Kivisto, Lydia Hastings.
(top) Kirsty Linnett takes on Sanna Saarinen
(middle) Issy Christiansen is denied by a smothering save from Paula Myllyoja
(bottom) Jade Moore tries to get away from Heidi Kivela
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