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Arsenal aim to overturn Lyon lead

"We can get a result but whether we can beat them 3-0 I'm not sure," said Arsenal LFC keeper Emma Byrne as they bid to overturn a 2-0 semi-final deficit against Olympique Lyonnais.

Arsenal's stalwart goalkeeper Emma Byrne in action at Stade de Gerland
Arsenal's stalwart goalkeeper Emma Byrne in action at Stade de Gerland ©Arsenal FC

Arsenal LFC began their quest to win England's new FA WSL competition with a televised 1-0 victory at Chelsea LFC in midweek – but must overturn a 2-0 deficit at home to Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday if they are to play in next month's UEFA Women's Champions League final at Craven Cottage.

Lyon delighted a crowd of more than 20,000 at Stade de Gerland last weekend as two early Lotta Schelin goals put the 2010 runners-up in line for a second straight final. Whereas Lyon recently clinched another French championship, Arsenal waited 11 months to kick off their title defence but Wednesday's victory is a morale-booster along with the return of defenders Naimh Fahey and Gilly Flaherty – the midweek scorer – from European suspension.

The absence of bans delights manager Laura Harvey. "I can't remember the last time that happened," she said. "We've got a full squad and we can really put it to Lyon and hopefully show them what we're about. For 70 minutes last Saturday we did that but we let ourselves down in the first 20 minutes."

Goalkeeper Emma Byrne has made a record 56 appearances in UEFA women's club competition, but has rarely faced a test like this. "I think we can get a result but whether we can beat them 3-0 I'm not sure," the Irish international said. "But we're definitely going out to try and beat them."

Late comebacks took the 2007 champions past Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and Linköpings FC in the last two rounds. Byrne said: "I don't know what's wrong with us! We seem to enjoy the agony I think. We seem to be a team at the moment who enjoy fighting back and react when [opponents] score, and we need to snap out of that because teams like Lyon won't give us a second chance."

While Arsenal were playing on Wednesday, Lyon winger Élodie Thomis suffered a thigh tear in training and was ruled out of the trip along with full-back Sandrine Dusang and fellow defender Corine Franco due to knee injuries, but they have midfielder Sonia Bompastor back from suspension. Lyon won 3-2 at Meadow Park in the 2008 quarter-finals to eliminate then holders Arsenal but Schelin is not taking a return to London on 26 May for granted.

"We have to realise that the tie's not over and it's all still to play for so we'll have to perform well again," the Sweden striker said. "At their place, we have to put in 100% concentration and not give them any chances."

In last season's quarter-finals Lyon took a 3-0 lead to Italy's Torres and learned a lesson that Schelin believes is useful on Saturday. "We tried to sit back away from home but that isn't our natural game," she said. "And we lost 1-0 there. I think we're really good going forward, so maybe attack will be the best form of defence. But we'll see, that's for the coach to decide, I'll just try my best."