Aoife Mannion helped Birmingham City LFC hold Tyresö FF 0-0 but like her colleagues felt they could have won, while the visitors believe the first-leg scoreline suits them.
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Birmingham City LFC's reaction to their 0-0 UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final first-leg draw with visiting Tyresö FF was a mixture of delight at their showing but frustration that they did not turn their fine last half-hour into a lead for next Sunday's return.
Defender Aoife Mannion, 18, was superb in keeping out a forward line of Marta, Christen Press and Verónica Boquete but told UEFA.com they were playing "the names on the back of their shirts" early on. The Swedish side had praise for their hosts while coach Tony Gustavsson hailed his medical team for helping their several injured players get fit for today.
David Parker, Birmingham manager
It was a very hard-fought, deserved draw. Keeping that clean sheet was vital to us, we really didn't want to give away that away goal. But we wanted to take a lead over there as well, but that's being greedy. We've had to settle for everything but the goal today, but in the last 30 minutes of the second half we've really grown into this and shown we are capable of going to Sweden now and getting an away goal.
In the last half-hour we were the better team. In the first half we didn't settle on the ball – maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the occasion – we were just trying to do things that weren't quite there. But we got in at half-time 0-0 and it's given us a platform to regroup and re-encourage the girls because they didn't quite have the belief beforehand that they could nick a goal. If you look at our set pieces, the way that we've played moving forward, we weren't quite there.
But we'll have the belief now. We know we can get a goal out there. We've shown that today and if we can get that away goal it's worth double bubble for us as they'd have to get two. And on our defensive display that'll take some beating.
Aoife Mannion, Birmingham defender
It's a great result for a first leg at home. We haven't conceded any goals and hopefully we can go into the second game and build on the great start that we've had and hopefully get a result.
Maybe we had on our minds who we were playing against, the names on the back of their shirts. I was aware we were playing against Marta and Christen Press, both players who scored hat-tricks in the first leg of their quarter-final, but as soon as we settled in we did really well. In fact, we could have converted a few chances. We are happy with the result and even happier to be going into the second game with no goals against.
It's an experience playing against the best in the world, but I feel like the players who were around me supported me – Kerys [Harrop] on my left, Chelsea [Weston] on the right – and how we gelled, we worked really well. It wasn't just about me versus them, it was about us as a team and how we played.
It's definitely a blow to lose [Harrop, suspended next week] someone who excels so well in their position, but I like to think anyone who is called upon to fill that role will do it well and excel just as she did. We have been going into each game knowing what we have to do. Every team is different. Tyresö's style of play is different to teams we have played against in the [Women's Super League], but we will take each game as it comes and see how far it takes us.
Karen Carney, Birmingham forward
We've got to believe a little bit more. I don't think we played to the best of our abilities today, which is quite scary. It's a great result in terms of them not scoring, so every goal we get over there is worth two. Overall it's a good result for us, but in ourselves we've got to believe a little bit more. Mel Lawley, in the second half when she believed, was absolutely outstanding and quick on the ball. When she started getting at them they were petrified of her. We need to take that from the get-go and really believe in ourselves. We are a great team, we've got some good individuals and we've got to go for it.
We've got to be realistic. If you'd said to us 0-0 at the start of the game we would have taken that. It's not a bad result, we'll learn from it and hopefully we can get to the final and learn from that. So we've got to work hard, but it's going to be tough – we never thought it was going to be easy.
Before the game we said it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, it's what we believe. Perhaps today we didn't believe in it as 100% as we should have, but after this we've seen all their cards, we've seen what they've got. Chelsea Weston was outstanding. Everyone talks about Marta – she's a fantastic player, I'm not going to take that away from her – but Chelsea was outstanding today. She is like that every week, people underestimate her. We will go there with a little bit more belief and a bit more confidence and if it is meant to be it's meant to be. We'll give everything,
Tony Gustavsson, Tyresö coach
It was a really good 0-0, if you can say that, between two really good teams that tactically were good at neutralising their opponents' strength attacking-wise. There were a couple of chances for both teams that could have ended up with goals, but a draw is a fair result.
It was one of those days [in not scoring]. We talked at half-time about having the killer instinct in the box because balls were dropping in. They had a lot of bodies between the ball and the goal. It is not so simple in those cases and the ball bounced a little bit on the last touch on the grass.
Once again, a big thank you and applause to our medical team, who did a fantastic job to get everybody playing. You could also see in the second half they were a little bit tired, they haven't trained that much in the last few weeks, so we lacked energy in the last ten minutes. That's why I made the substitutions.
Line Røddik, Tyresö defender
It was a good game. We wanted to win, but it was important for us to keep a clean sheet. We did that and now we have the home game to come. We were expecting them to be physical and they were. We came pretty close to scoring, to getting that away goal, but we will score at home. We are looking forward to playing at home, on our own [artifcial] turf. We are used to training on it and playing on it compared to normal grass, but the pitch today was good to play on.
Christen Press, Tyresö forward
It was a really good match. They are a really tough side, so credit to Birmingham because they came out with a lot of confidence. It's really impressive, they play a physical [brand] of football and put us under a lot of pressure for the whole 90 minutes. It was a tough game and not a bad result, leaving with no goals against. It puts us in a really good position for our second leg.
We started off the game really sharply, we played a pressing game and had a lot of confidence coming into the game. We had a couple of chances and we were trying to sneak one in. Then, as the game went on, it got more even and they got some momentum, but that's the way it goes and we are hoping we can get a goal on our home pitch.