The UEFA Women's Champions League final is in London this season and the round of 32 has began well for both England's hopefuls.
Arsenal LFC showed their experience with a win at FC Barcelona, whose fellow newcomers Birmingham City LFC impressed. Both Norway's representatives also had a good night while holders Olympique Lyonnais and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam secured good away wins and Patrizia Panico inspired the comeback of the night. UEFA.com rounds up Wednesday's first-leg action; the returns of these ties are next Wednesday and Thursday and there are four more openers tomorrow.
FC Barcelona 0-3 Arsenal LFC
On their debut in this competition, Barcelona began impressively. However, 2007 winners Arsenal have reached ten quarter-finals and showed patience and goalkeeper Emma Byrne kept them level before Jennifer Beattie scored on 35 minutes. It was still tight until Jordan Nobbs's turn and lob made it two early in the second half and gradually Barcelona wilted, conceding a third when Katie Chapman pounced on a Stephanie Houghton free-kick.
Birmingham City LFC 2-0 ASD CF Verona
Debutants Birmingham will have a healthy lead to defend next week. Rachel Williams scored in the 51st minute after Verona's defence failed to deal with Laura Bassett's cross into the box and she drove the loose ball past Stéphanie Öhrström. It was 2-0 in the 70th minute when Williams's shot was parried by Öhrström and left-back Harrop drove home on the rebound. Jodie Taylor poked a shot against the post in added time and Verona had scant opportunities although Melania Gabbiadini would have broken clear at 1-0 but for a superb challenge by Birmingham skipper Bassett.
Stabæk FK 2-0 Brøndby IF
After a evenly-matched first half, Stabæk struck twice within five minutes of the restart through captain Ingvild Stensland and Ada Hegerberg. Brøndby never managed to respond and Stabæk came close to a third, but the Norwegian side, who fell to 1. FFC Frankfurt in the last 32 on their debut last season, still are in a great position against the two-time semi-finalists.
BIIK Shymkent 0-4 Røa IL
BIIK, of Kazakhstan, won all three games on their European bow in the qualifying round but their experienced Norwegian visitors proved a step up in class. Stine Andreassen pounced on a rebound in the 14th minute to put Røa ahead and moments later BIIK goalkeeper Alexandra Grebenyuk cleared straight to Elise Thorsnes, who calmly doubled the lead. Andreassen had another just before the break and Emile Haavi grabbed the fourth with Emueje Ogbiagbevha having BIIK’s only real chance.
PK-35 Vantaa 0-7 Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon took 13 minutes to break the deadlock against the Finnish champions through Laëtitia Tonazzi's header but once they did a comfortable victory was never in doubt. Wendie Renard, Eugénie Le Sommer and Lara Dickenmann made it four by half-time and substitute Amel Majri, Tonazzi and Camille Abily completed the victory.
Standard Femina de Liège 1-3 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam
Underdogs Standard, cheered on by a 4,000 crowd, took the initiative from the start and were rewarded when captain Maud Coutereels headed them into a sixth-minute lead. But the German champions, who have won this competition twice, soon responded through Natasa Andonova and she struck again before an Imke Courtois own goal made it 3-1 at the break, and that was how it stayed, making a round of 16 tie between Potsdam and Arsenal a likelihood.
Apollon Limassol LFC 2-3 ASD Torres CF
Things looked rosy for Apollon when Sinead Farrelly gave them a half-time lead and Laura Rus doubled it on 57 minutes. But that was the cue for Torres's evergreen 37-year-old forward Patrizia Panico to turn the game, pulling one back midway through the half then scoring again on 85 and 86 minutes to turn the game with a brilliant hat-trick – indeed it could have been more had Apollon goalkeeper Michelle Betos not made some excellent saves.
Glasgow City LFC 1-2 Fortuna Hjørring
Fortuna, hoping to reach the final ten years on from their 2003 run, took a giant step towards the last 16. Nadia Nadim was the heroine for the Danish side with a first-half double although she missed out on a hat-trick when her penalty was saved just before half-time. Her first was on three minutes, Chi-Chi Igbo crossing for Nadim who had the simplest of tap-ins. Just past the half-hour Nadim sprung the offside trap before chipping Claire Johnstone, but the keeper had revenge by stopping the spot-kick after Igbo had been brought down in the box. Glasgow stepped up the pressure after the break and visiting goalkeeper Maria Christensen twice produced excellent saves to deny Jane Ross and Emma Mitchell. However, Ross was not to be denied and 14 minutes from time she curled a left foot shot past Christensen from outside the box to give the Scottish champions hope.
CFF Olimpia Cluj 1-1 SV Neulengbach
Neulenbgach were grateful for a late equaliser from Maria Gstottner in their bid to reach the last 16 for the fourth straight season. Early on Olimpia were grateful for a great save from Mirela Ganea to deny Nina Burger but at the other end, Cosmina Dușa came agonisingly close. In the 19th minute Ganeaq brilliantly denied Gstottner and from the resulting corner Alexandra Bíróová headed on to the crossbar only for Alexandra Lunca to break and shoot wide. On 57 minutes Duşa put Olimpia ahead, heading in Raluca Sârghe's cross from the right. Kathrin Entner hit the post for the Austrian visitors soon after but Gstottner was set up by Burger six minutes from time to ensure a deserved draw.
ŽFK Spartak Subotica 0-1 Göteborg FC
The Serbian hosts gave their much-fancied Swedish visitors a tough test but were unable to find a way through. But contrast Göteborg, who reached the quarter-finals on their debut last season, gave themselves a lead to take back when Levin Camille struck from outside the box five minutes before half-time.
Stjarnan 0-0 FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk
In the meeting of two European debutants, Zorkiy will be happier with the scoreline they take back to Russia but Iceland's Stjarnan will be relieved not to have conceded after captain Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 37th minute. Zorkiy pressed hard near the end, Elena Morozova striking the woodwork among a flurry of chances.
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