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Arsenal put one foot in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter finals with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Glasgow City at The Hive.
Steph Houghton put the hosts ahead with a header on 14 minutes and Danielle Carter doubled their advantage just before half time. Ellen White's header rounded off the win to give Shelley Kerr's side a healthy lead to take up to Scotland for the second leg on Wednesday.
Conditions were made difficult by a rain-sodden outfield but both sides, to their credit, tried to get the ball down on the surface and there was some excellent football played at times. Unsurprisingly, the Gunners made the early running. In the 12th minute, Kim Little exchanged passes with Jordan Nobbs before firing an effort high over the bar. A minute later, White had a header that was well held by Lee Alexander but Kerr's side didn't have to wait much longer to take the lead.
On 14 minutes, Yankey floated in a corner from the right and Houghton rose above her marker to power home a header past Alexander. It was a deserved opener for Arsenal.
City had their first effort on goal in the 19th minute when Jessica Fishlock touched the ball off for Christie Murray but her shot flew wide.
But it was the home side who continued to dominate as the visitors struggled to get out of their own half at times. Former City player Emma Mitchell saw an effort go just over in the 24th minute when City failed to clear their lines before Nobbs made a burst into the box but couldn't pick out one of her team mates.
Carter perhaps should have put the Gunners further ahead on 30 minutes after latching onto a clever pass from White but her shot was straight at Alexander. Nobbs, who along with Carter signed new contracts with Arsenal this week, came close to making it two after neat interplay from White and Houghton which led to the England midfielder picking up the ball on the edge of the box and firing a low effort just wide.
Arsenal's second arrived three minutes before half time. Houghton's cross was missed by two Glasgow defenders and Carter was on hand to finish past Alexander from close range.
It was a controlled performance in the second half by Arsenal - keeping a clean sheet became the priority. The Gunners created little until the 64th minute when White put the game, and possibly the tie, beyond Glasgow. Yankey drove in a deep cross towards the England forward who sent a looping header over Alexander.
Five minutes later, Carter almost made it four when her shot from the edge of the box cannoned off the bar. The visitors then had Alexander to thank for a smart save from Nobbs after the midfielder surged into the penalty area. Alexander made another good save on 84 minutes - this time denying a dipping strike from substitute Davison.
The Gunners struck the woodwork for the second time in the closing minutes when Yankey saw her arrowed effort hit the bar.
City rarely threatened in the second period and goalkeeper Emma Byrne became a mere spectator as the game drew to a close. There was an extra treat for Arsenal supporters late on when Kelly Smith made her long awaited comeback from injury as a substitute, to round off a fine afternoon's work for their side.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Emma Mitchell, Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty, Steph Houghton, Danielle Carter (sub Kelly Smith 76mins), Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White (sub Gemma Davison 68mins), Kim Little, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Cherie Rowlands, Yvonne Tracy, Caroline Weir, Freda Ayisi, Jade Bailey.
Glasgow City: Lee Alexander, Nicola Docherty, Leanne Crichton, Rachel Corsie, Eilish McSorley, Joanne Love, Christie Murray, Jessica Fishlock, Ruesha Littlejohn (sub Sarah Crilly 67mins), Suzanne Lappin, Leanne Ross (sub Emma Fernon 63mins). Subs not used: Danica Dalziel, Lisa Robertson, Danielle Pagliarulo, Denise O'Sullivan, Julie Nelson.
(Report by www.arsenal.com)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Danielle Carter battles with Leanne Crichton
(middle) Leanne Ross tries to stop Rachel Yankey getting in a cross
(bottom) Alex Scott slides in to challenge Nicola Docherty
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