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Manchester City have taken a huge stride towards the UEFA Women's Champions League semi finals after recording a convincing victory in the opening leg of their quarter final tie.
City hosted their first leg with Swedish side Linkoping at the Academy Stadium but went into the game in the unaccustomed position of having gone three games without a win. The visitors fielded recent signing, England international striker Natasha Dowie, in their starting line up but any nerves City might have felt were well and truly banished as they recorded a comfortable 2-0 win to set themselves up well for the second leg.
City manager Nick Cushing had called for a fast start to the game and his players did not let him down, carrying the game to Linkoping and after Georgia Stanway had fired just off target early on, Keira Walsh went even closer with a low drive from the edge of the area which beat the dive of Hilda Carlen but came back off the post.
The game hit a small lull after that point but roared back into life again when, moments later Linkoping had seen penalty appeals waved by following a challenge by Steph Houghton, City went back on the attack and after a free kick had not been cleared, Jane Ross' goalbound strike was blocked by the arms of Lina Lantz and this time a spot kick was awarded. Lantz had already been booked and was shown a second yellow card and following a short delay, Nikita Parris fired home from the spot to give her side the lead.
Parris could have made it two shortly afterwards but her shot was saved by Carlen, with City continuing to dictate matters. Ten minutes into the second half, they took an even firmer grip on the tie when Melissa Lawley's cross picked out Ross whose looping header gave Carlen no chance.
Stanway was unlucky not to make it three when her sweetly struck shot crashed against the bar and Claire Emslie shot over as City had to settle for two on the night but firmly in the driving seat for when the teams meet in the return leg next Wednesday.
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