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Carli Lloyd marked her Champions League debut with a goal as Manchester City Women handed themselves the advantage with a 1-0 win in their quarter final first leg tie against Fortuna Hjorring.
The double FIFA World Player of the Year opened the scoring in a dominant display for the Blues at the Bredband Nord Arena.
Direct, hungry and tireless in and out of possession, the visitors restricted their hosts to mere half-chances and could have extended their aggregate lead.
City manager Nick Cushing made two changes to the side that defeated Reading in the FA Cup at the weekend, as Kosovare Asllani and Jane Ross replaced Nikita Parris and Georgia Stanway. Karen Bardsley took her place in goal, shielded by a back line of Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus and Lucy Bronze. Keira Walsh was employed in defensive midfield with Lloyd and Jill Scott in the centre. Mel Lawley and Asllani occupied the wings while Ross led the line up front.
Captain Steph Houghton and 2016 top scorer Jane Ross had spoken beforehand of their side's intention to net an away goal and from kick-off, the Blues went in search of one.
The first real chance arrived on 18 minutes when Lloyd was denied well by Maria Christiansen from close range, before Lucy Bronze struck the woodwork with a hooked effort a minute later.
The American capitalised with her second chance though, powering a bullet header past Fortuna ‘keeper Maria Christiansen from Ross' delivery, after Jill Scott had stolen possession in a dangerous area.
The Blues continued where they left off after the break. Aside from two long range off target attempts from Tamires and Florentina Olar and a cross-shot that Karen Bardsley tipped over, Hjorring rarely threatened.
Lloyd almost doubled her lead but dragged Kosovare Asllani's drilled cross wide, while Houghton saw a header cleared off the line. Nikita Parris then fired over, having played a neat one-two with Ross. Bronze was also unfortunate not to double the advantage as she was first thwarted by Christiansen and then headed the rebound wide.
As it turned out, one goal would be enough on the night. Will it be enough to progress? Find out in a week's time...
City host Fortuna at the Academy Stadium in the second leg on Thursday 30th March (7pm) and tickets are available. The winners will play either Olympique Lyonnais or VfL Wolfsburg in the semi finals, Lyon having won the first leg 2-0 with goals from Camille Abily and Dzsenifer Marozsan.
Maria Christiansen, Tuija Hyyrynen, Tamires, Nevena Damjanovic, Janelle Cordia, Camilla Larsen (sub Caroline Moller 56mins), Nora Heroum, Florentina Omar, Sarah Hansen (sub Francisleide dos Santos Barbosa 78mins), Frederikke Thogersen, Luna Gewitz. Subs not used: Guro Pettersen, Louise Ringsing, Dominika Conc, Caroline Rask, Laura Frank.
Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Abbie McManus, Steph Houghton, Kosovare Asllani (sub Nikita Parris 67mins), Jill Scott, Jane Ross, Carli Lloyd, Melissa Lawley (sub Toni Duggan 77mins). Subs not used: Ellie Roebuck, Marie Hourihan, Tessel Middag, Izzy Christiansen, Georgia Stanway.
(Report by manchestercity.fawsl.com)
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