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Bristol Academy 2 Raheny Utd 1
Bristol Academy cruised into the last sixteen of the UEFA Women's Champions League and set themselves up with a prestigious tie against Barcelona.
A four-goal victory in the first leg had made the return game at Ashton Gate little more than a formality and they completed the task with second half goals from Natalia Pablos Sanchon and Angharad James.
It was Noelle Murray who had the first attempt on goal for Raheny with a long range shot that sailed over the bar but in a largely uneventful first half, it was Academy who had the lion's share of shots.
Nikki Watts was narrowly off target when flashed a 30-yard strike inches over and the striker also had a shot on the turn charged down by Pearl Slattery.
Watts continued to look the most threatening player on the pitch as she tried another shot from distance which flew straight at Niamh Reid Burke and also curled a left footed effort just wide.
Despite some good touches from Katie McCabe and Siobhan Killeen, Raheny were making little impression against the Academy defence although they did have a strong shout for a penalty turned down when McCabe was challenged by Jaz Matthews. At the other end, Watts forced a save from Burke following a good run by Sophie Ingle but the game had a 'dead rubber' feel about it and drifted into the break with a goalless scoreline.
McCabe was unlucky at the start of the second half with a shot that struck the outside of the post after a corner had been half cleared into her path. Two minutes later though, Academy broke the deadlock when Natasha Harding found space on the right and crossed, Watts held the ball up in the area and laid it off for Natalia to plant her shot into the far corner of the net.
The second goal was not too long in coming, this time Natalia and Harding combined to set up a chance for James and the midfielder fired in a shot which Burke got a hand to but could not keep out.
Laura Del Rio had been brought on as a second half substitute and she went close to a third with a shot from the edge of the area which was turned over the bar by Burke. Natalia drove a shot narrowly over the bar moments later from fifteen yards.
Raheny kept going and grabbed themselves a consolation with seventeen minutes remaining. Sinead O'Farrelly floated a free kick from deep into the area for an unmarked Slattery who planted a downward header past Mary Earps to reduce the arrears.
Academy could well have restored the two-goal advantage but appeared to make a meal of an excellent opportunity when Watts dribbled her way into the area before being crowded out in front of goal, the ball falling to Natalia whose shot was blocked on the line by the covering Rebecca Creagh.
That was the last action in a comfortable passage for the home side who booked their place in the last sixteen for the first time in their history.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Loren Dykes (sub Frankie Brown 54mins), Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose, Sophie Ingle, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Gabriella Bird 84mins), Angharad James, Natasha Harding, Nikki Watts, Corinne Yorston (sub Laura Del Rio 49mins). Subs not used: Alice Evans, Cristina Keka Vega, Georgia Evans.
Raheny Utd: Niamh Reid Burke, Ingunn Eiriksdottir, Niamh Walsh, Sinead O'Farrelly, Lauren Dwyer (sub Avril Brierley 64mins), Pearl Slattery, Rebecca Creagh (sub Niamh Barnes 81mins), Rachel Graham, Katie McCabe, Noelle Murray (sub Catherine Cronin 72mins), Siobhan Killeen. Subs not used: Bethany Houldsworth, Shauna Newman, Laura Ryan, Danielle Sheehy.
(top) Lauren Dwyer tries to hold off Loren Dykes
(middle) Katie McCabe does well to escape from Natalia Pablos Sanchon and Nikki Watts
(bottom) Jemma Rose and Corinne Yorston combine to keep out Pearl Slattery and Rebecca Creagh
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