By Jan Juhlin
UEFA Women's Cup holders Umeå IK were eliminated from this season's competition after Malin Nykvist's 51st-minute goal sealed Djurgården/Älvsjö's passage to the semi-finals.
Nykvist finally settled the visitors' nerves with a long-range drive at the start of the second half to give Djurgåden/Älvsjö a 3-1 aggregate lead. Although Umeå then pushed forward in numbers, the side that has been the dominant force in Swedish football for much of the last decade could not break down a resilient back line and for the first time have failed to reach the final of this competition, having been runners-up and winners twice in the three-year history of the UEFA Women's Cup.
Thomas Dennerby's side always had the advantage in the tie after taking a two-goal lead in Stockholm on Wednesday. But their fierce rivals reduced the deficit through Laura Kalmari with just four minutes remaining and the majority of the the 3,182-crowd at Gammliavallen suspected that Umeå, with Hanna Ljungberg back in the side after injury, would be too strong.
The home started brightly, with Ljungberg and Anna Sjöström both going close in the opening 15 minutes. But without Brazilian star Marta - who was injured in the dressing room before the game - the home side struggled to penetrate the well drilled Djurgåden/Älvsjö defence and the visitors began to pose a greater threat on the counterattack, with the pacy Sara Johansson a constant threat.
'A tactical triumph'
Goalkeeper Ulrika Karlsson made a string of fine saves before the deadlock was broken by Nykvist and Djurgården/Alvsjö will now try to add the UEFA Women's Cup to their Swedish title. Dennerby praised his side for their discipline: "This was a tactical triumph," he said. "We had a plan and stuck to it and I’m very pleased with how the girls handled the situation."
Umeå, who for the second year running also conceded the Swedish title to Djurgården/Alvsjö, meet their rivals again next week in the Swedish Cup final. Djurgården/Alvsjö will play Arsenal LFC in the next round of this competition next April.
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