Matthew Beard and scorers Gemma Davison and Natasha Dowie shared their relief after Liverpool LFC won 2-1 against a Linköpings FC side frustrated by missed chances.
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UEFA Women's Champions League debutants Liverpool LFC overcame a tough challenge from Linköpings FC to eke out a 2-1 round of 32 first-leg win – there was relief and delight from Reds manager Matthew Beard and goalscorers Gemmma Davison and Natasha Dowie.
Linköping goalkeeper Kathlynn Fraine, who overcame injury to play, agreed with forward Pernille Harder and coach Martin Sjöogren that they may not have been as clinical as Liverpool, but they have a great chance in Sweden next Thursday. UEFA.com rounds up the reaction.
Matthew Beard, Liverpool manager
I thought it was a great game of football. We knew that Linköping were a tough side to play against, and it was a great game of football. I felt we grew in confidence as the game went on, especially the last 20 to 25 minutes we were the better side. But they were a very well-organised side, they are very dangerous on the counterattack and they have a lot of pace and strength in their team, they are very dangerous on set plays. I am delighted to be going back to Sweden in front, but it is going to be a tough game out there.
Libby [Stout] is a fantastic goalkeeper. She had an outstanding game on Sunday, against Arsenal, and I said to her before the game tonight to use the confidence from that. She made some good saves and dealt with the aerial threat quite well, which took the pressure off us at times. We are pleased we are in front going into the second leg.
Nicole [Rolser]'s a world-class player. We changed the shape, which I felt suited us a little bit better, we caused them one or two more problems, because we could pin them back in our half and stop them playing. I'm delighted we've got her back [from injury] for these games, and for the end of our domestic season as well.
Natasha Dowie, Liverpool forward
We knew it would be a tough game. They are a really strong side and it is our first time in the Champions League. But we have got plenty of experience within our team. We got off to a good start with a great goal by Gemma, and then it was disappointing to concede as we would have liked to have kept a clean sheet. But I am pleased to have got the winner for the team.
For me it is just exciting to be involved and we worked hard to get that win at the end with a few people pulling up with cramp. It was a tough game but pleased to get the 2-1. But it is only halfway.
They have quality all round their team, players who have played in this competition year in, year out and played for their national teams in World Cups etc. We knew it was on a different level to the WSL 1 league and we had to step up our game. I felt like we did that today. A great crowd, as always, they got behind us, they've been like our 12th player all season so hopefully we can have a few of them travelling out to Sweden as well.
Gemma Davison, Liverpool forward
I think we battled hard there. We scored an early goal, conceded, but we battled through and we got a goal at the end which is really important. A good performance by the team.
We did our homework with the coaching staff on set pieces, and if you get a strike on goal you never know what's going to happen so I'll take that one [the opening goal].
Libby [Stout]'s been outstanding for us all year, she makes you feel safe at the back. Again she showed her quality tonight and I'm confident she is going to keep that going.
Every team is going to be a challenge, this is the Champions League, the best teams in Europe. Sweden have one of the best leagues in the world – they've come out and showed what a great team they are but we've shown we can mix it with them when we take it to the away leg. It is going to be intense but we have got to be organised and focused and we have the players to do that.
Kathlynn Fraine, Linköping goalkeeper
Obviously it's a disappointing result. We wanted to come here and at least get a draw out of it to be able to take it home and finish it off. But I think we have a lot of points we can work on now, we know what we are up against a bit better than just on film. Hopefully we can go home and finish the business.
I think we had more possession and more opportunities. Our attack was a bit more dangerous but it is the final ball that really counts and we weren't able to put it away. It's what football is about. They did a good job to put their few opportunities away, they created a bit of chaos in the box, and congratulations to them for getting the two goals.
It's always unfortunate – your defenders throw themselves in front of the ball and hope to block it, every now and then it goes wrong. There's not much you can do about it.
It's been a rough month or so [with injury], I was on standby up until the game and fairly limited, but I think I was able to play up to a decent level.
We are always much better at home. The travel isn't easy to get over here, but there are no excuses – we have to go home and do the business if we want to continue. We knew Liverpool were a tough team coming in and they proved it. So if we want to move on, we have to be tougher.
Pernille Harder, Linköping forward
We played well for most of the game and we could have scored more goals. Unfortunately we didn't but it is important that we got one, one more game at home and we'll beat them. I hope there will be a lot of supporters next week, we are good at home. Liverpool were tough, playing direct football and they were fast. They took their chances.
Martin Sjögren, Linköping coach
It was quite an even game. Of course we wanted to get a little bit of a better result for the next game but still I think we have a good chance with this result. We are strong at home, we scored away, we let two goals in but I think we still have a good chance of getting through to the next round.