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A heavy defeat for Cardiff Met Ladies made it a disappointing end to the UEFA Women's Champions League qualifiers as Icelandic side Breidablik deservedly progressed to the knockout stages.
It was all to play for on the final day of the UEFA Women's Champions League Group 3 qualifiers with Breidablik and ZFK Spartak Subotica both tied at the top of the group on four points with hosts Cardiff Met just a point behind. However, Cardiff Met had their toughest challenge of the tournament ahead, with impressive Icelandic outfit Breidablik providing the opposition on the final day. Meanwhile, NSA Sofia were looking for their first point, and their first goal, as they prepared to take on Serbian side ZFK Spartak Subotica at Jenner Park. Only the group winners would progress to the knockout stages and keep alive the dream of returning to Cardiff in June for the UEFA Women's Champions League final.
The afternoon started on a sombre note as a minutes silence was held for popular photographer Rob Wilkins who sadly passed away earlier in the week. Without influential defender Sophie Scherschel through the injury suffered in the previous match, manager Dr Kerry Harris made changes to her starting line up, with captain Emily Allen returning to the side.
However, it was Breidablik who dominated matters from the start, and after forcing a string of corners, they eventually took the lead after ten minutes through Svava Gudmundsdottir. It was no more than the visitors deserved and it was Gudmundsdottir who had added a second minutes later.
Breidablik captain Rakel Honnudottir added a third midway through the half and the lead was increased further from the penalty spot when Hannah Bluck brought down Berglind Thorvaldsdottir and was shown a yellow card for her late tackle in the area. The impressive Fanndis Fridrisdottir converted the resulting spot kick before Thorvaldsdottir then added her name to the scoresheet. The captain then added a sixth before the break to make an already long afternoon for Cardiff Met even longer.
Erin Murray had Cardiff Met's best opportunities in an opening half that saw the hosts chasing shadows for long periods, while striker Robyn Pinder was switched to a central defensive role when Stephanie Turner could no longer continue. The second half proved to be slightly more competitive as Pinder kept a close guard on Fridrisdottir, but the Icelandic side remained in complete control, eventually adding to their total in the final minutes of the match through Malfridur Erna Sigurdardottir and Esther Arnarsdottir as the side booked their place into the knock-stages of the competition with ease.
Meanwhile, at Jenner Park, the Group 3 qualifiers came to a close as ZFK Spartak Subotica claimed a 2-0 win over NSA Sofia through goals from captain Violeta Slovic and the towering, attacking midfielder Alexandra Quincey to finish the tournament level on points with Breidablik but with an inferior goal difference. The defeat means that the Bulgarian side failed to find the back of the net in any of their three fixtures. Despite the heavy loss, Cardiff Met Ladies can take plenty of positives from their opening two games, with the 4-0 victory over NSA Sofia on the opening day one of the most famous results in the team's history.
(Report by www.faw.cymru)
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