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Birmingham City 0 Tyreso FF 0
A dogged and well organised performance has kept Birmingham City's dream alive in the UEFA Women's Champions League as they held Tyreso FF to a goalless draw in the first leg of their semi final at Solihull.
After a nervous start, the Blues' back four defended brilliantly against their renowned opponents to keep a clean sheet but sadly the outstanding Kerys Harrop will miss the return leg in Sweden after being ruled out through suspension.
Tyreso dominated the early possession as Birmingham took a little time to settle in and could have gone ahead in the sixth minute when Marta shot wide after a corner had not been cleared.
Marta to have an even better chance four minutes later from Caroline Seger's long pass and took the ball away from Harrop but her shot went wide of the far post.
Malin Diaz turned the ball past the post from a Marta cross and Veronica Boquete struck the outside of the post after cutting in from the right as Tyreso continued to seek a breakthrough.
Linda Sembrant headed over from close range following a corner and Christen Press had a shot charged down by Aoife Mannion but the Blues rode out the early storm and began to look more threatening themselves when going forward.
Karen Carney and Melissa Lawley were becoming more of an attacking threat down the flanks but the chances continued to go Tyreso's way as the half came to a close. Meghan Klingenberg curled a shot wide of the far post and a powerful strike from Marta was bravely headed away by Harrop as Birmingham kept the scoreline goalless at the interval.
Early in the second half, Birmingham were dealt a blow as Harrop was booked for handball, meaning she will miss the second leg next week.
Tyreso again pressed hard for an early strike but once more the young Birmingham back four stood firm with a succession of interceptions and good challenges. The Swedish side were to come close just after the hour mark though, Marta striking a free kick over the Birmingham wall but Rebecca Spencer dived to her left to pull off a good save.
Two minutes later, Birmingham went agonisingly close themselves when, following good hold up work by Kirsty Linnett, Jade Moore worked herself an opening and drove a shot from 25 yards which flew past the diving Carola Soberg but inches wide of the post.
This near miss gave the Blues side great confidence and they enjoyed their best spell of the game, driven on by the tireless Moore while Carney and Jo Potter were having a bigger influence. Lawley was having a fine match on the left and after turning away from Klingenberg, she sped into the area but Seger did really well to get back and block her shot.
Back came Tyreso and they created their best chance so far. Line Roddik lifted a pass over the Birmingham defence and released Christen Press on goal but the striker lifted her shot harmlessly over the bar with only Spencer to beat. A free kick pumped into the Blues area also caused problems as the ball bobbled around before Mannion did extremely well to get a block in to deny Marta as she looked poised to score.
A strong run by Carney at the Tyreso defence led to another opportunity for Moore but she couldn't get enough power into her left foot shot and it went wide.
Birmingham won a succession of corners in the late stages but, although they could not make a breakthrough, they will be more than happy to take the goalless scoreline into the second leg.
It was a huge occasion in front of a sell out 1,580 crowd for most of the young Birmingham side but they came through with flying colours. Mannion had a fine match alongside Harrop in defence whilst 16-year-old Jess Carter showed astonishing maturity both in defence and possession throughout the match. Tyreso will start the second leg as hot favourites but Birmingham are sure to be in an equally determined mood when the teams meet again.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Jess Carter, Jade Moore, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen, Kirsty Linnett, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Hannah Keryakoplis, Emily Simpkins, Emily Westwood, Katie Wilkinson, Cristina Torkildsen.
Tyreso FF: Carola Soberg, Meghan Klingenburg, Whitney Engen, Linda Sembrant, Line Roddik (sub Madelaine Edlund 86mins), Caroline Seger, Lisa Dahlkvist, Christen Press, Veronica Boquete, Marta, Malin Diaz (sub Rilany 86mins). Subs not used: Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Elisabet Klinga, Thaisa, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Mayara.
(top) Melissa Lawley is pursued by Marta
(middle) Kirsty Linnett tries to wriggle away from Linda Sembrant
(bottom) Jade Moore is inches wide with this effort on goal
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