New Arsenal LFC manager Shelley Kerr hailed her players after a 3-1 quarter-final first-leg defeat of ASD Torres CF, while scorer Jordan Nobbs said hard work paid off.
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New Arsenal LFC manager Shelley Kerr saw her side beat ASD Torres CF 3-1 in her first match in charge and had nothing but praise for "a professional group of players" as they took command of their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final.
Kelly Smith opened the scoring before going off injured, and Jordan Nobbs added a second, following up from her England debut goal in a 4-2 win against Italy two weeks ago. After Kim Little made it three, Torres pulled one back. Coach Manuela Tesse and No9 Patrizia Panico are hopeful for next Wednesday's return.
Shelley Kerr, Arsenal manager
It was exciting! Obviously we are delighted with the win, a little bit disappointed to concede a goal, but overall we are happy to win the first leg. It's been good [since taking over]. When you get to this level you know you are going to have competitive games and I see it more as a challenge, it's been absolutely brilliant. What we have here at Arsenal is a professional group of players, and they've been absolutely fantastic.
In spells of the game the girls showed great composure, they executed the game plan brilliantly. Obviously the majority of the girls have been away on international duty, and that helps as well, that they've been playing competitive games against the very best players.
Kelly [Smith] contributed for the first 30 minutes, she was really fantastic. She was captain today and she took responsibility, she led the midfield really well, and perhaps we did miss her a little bit. She can play the killer pass, she is just a fantastic footballer. But we regrouped well, we have a really talented squad.
Jordan Nobbs, Arsenal midfielder
I think it was great to get three goals. I'm a little disappointed we conceded but it was a good start to our home leg and good to take a lead into our away leg. It's great to get on the scoresheet and hopefully more to come.
We we knew they were going to come out strong like [when England played Italy in Cyprus two weeks ago]. We tried not to get in the battle too much, but obviously they are a good side and good to get the win. We've not heard how Kelly [Smith] is, but she is one of our key players and hopefully she will be back for the next leg.
[Kerr] has settled in straight away, all the players have taken on board what she has said and we showed it in the game today. We came out really strong, especially in the first 20 minutes, which shows how our training has been, it just summed up the game. It's always hard when you haven't been playing many games and then you come into the quarter-final of a Champions League. But we've been training really hard and a lot of players were away in the Cyprus Cup, and I think that helped today as well.
Hopefully we still want to get goals out there, we don't want to sit on our lead, we want to go and win again.
Manuela Tesse, Torres coach
I'm pleased with the performance, we played a good first half tactically and it's just a pity about the goal we conceded from a set piece because we've been working on them repeatedly, but fair enough, maybe once it doesn't work out. In the second half, we conceded after three minutes and that knocked the stuffing out of us, but we reacted well. At 3-0 we needed to get a goal to keep our hopes alive, which we did, and then we wanted a second too.
We started with a 4-3-3, changed to a 4-4-2 and then we had to speculate as we had to risk. This goal means a lot, they've got to come here and sweat for the win, like they had to do here. They are a great side and we knew that, but I'm happy because Italian football is catching up and we played an open game today, not just defending and sticking everybody behind the ball, and that's my biggest satisfaction. In two or three years we'll see Italian sides at this level. We Sardinians never give up!
Patrizia Panico, Torres forward
We expected Arsenal to be strong in midfield and play well out wide, where they are very fast; we didn't expect anything more or anything less, but we made too many mistakes in defence and they punish you. You give as good as you get, but it ends at the final whistle. The goal has given us a bit more hope. Of course it's going to be uphill, but this goal has at least given us the belief to turn it around at home.
Paradoxically, we played better at 3-0 than before, but we are a bit less experienced than Arsenal – they have played in a final of the Champions League before whereas we haven't so there can be a bit of fear. We've got to play the second game differently. We've got to risk a bit more, if you let them play they are devastating, so we've got to be more courageous and force them back.