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Arsenal 2-3 Wolfsburg (aet, agg: 4-5): Last-gasp Bremer seals final spot

Pauline Bremer's winner late in extra time sent Wolfsburg into the final against Barcelona in front of more than 60,000 fans at Arsenal Stadium.

Highlights: Arsenal 2-3 Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg will take on Barcelona in the UEFA Women's Champions League final in Eindhoven after substitute Pauline Bremer scored in the 29th minute of extra time to decide an epic tie in front of more than 60,000 fans at Arsenal Stadium.

Both teams led in the 90 minutes, and Arsenal hit the bar in extra time, before Bremer decided the tie. Wolfsburg are into their sixth final and will look for their third title on 3 June.

Key moments

11' Blackstenius strikes for Arsenal
42' Roord levels against former club
58' Popp puts Wolfsburg in front
75' Beattie heads equaliser
115' McCabe strikes crossbar
119' Sub Bremer hits winner

Match in brief: Bremer has last word

Wolfsburg welcomed back captain Alex Popp from injury but it was Arsenal, missing Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead, Kim Little, Leah Willamson and Cailtin Foord, who struck first. The Gunners came back from two down to draw in Germany eight days ago, and led on the night when Stina Blackstenius, who equalised in the first leg, ran on to a ball from Lia Wälti, outmuscled Katrin Hendrich, and rounded Merle Frohms before side-footing into the net to the delight of the sell-out crowd.

Arsenal celebrate their opener
Arsenal celebrate their openerGetty Images

Katie McCabe almost got a second after running on to a similar ball from deep from Victoria Pelova, but this time the Wolfsburg defence were able to prevent a shot. Jill Roord, one of two former Arsenal players in the visiting team along with Dominique Janssen, had their first opening but the effort went past the post.

Blackstenius had another chance after a Wolfsburg clearance deflected off Frida Maanum into the Swedish forward's path, but Frohms dived to save. It was Roord who levelled against her old club as Felicitas Rauch's free-kick was flicked across by Popp and the Netherlands midfielder chested the ball down and volleyed in from the edge of the area. A second Wolfsburg goal before the break was prevented by Manuela Zinsberger after Sveindís Jónsdóttir surged through.

Blackstenius seemed to have got her second just 72 seconds after the break, but her goal was overturned by VAR for offside against ex-Wolfsburg defender Noelle Maritz, who put in the cross. Before the hour mark it was the visitors who went 2-1 up on the night, Popp heading Rauch's corner inside the near post.

With 21 minutes left, Huth had a great chance to clinch victory when clean through, but her shot rolled past the far post. Instead it was Arsenal who drew level through a player who, like Popp, was involved when Wolfsburg beat the Gunners in the 2012/13 semi-finals, Jenny Beattie heading in Lotte Wubben-Moy's cross.

Laura Wienroither, who had come on for Maritz, joined Arsenal's lengthy injury list when she was taken off on a stretcher with ten minutes of the 90 remaining. The defender was given a huge ovation from the record crowd.

Arsenal nearly won it in extra time when Maanum robbed Janssen and crossed for Lina Hurtig, but Frohms made a point-blank save. Wolfsburg substitute Pauline Bremer also came close and a McCabe cross-shot struck the crossbar, but Bremer won it with time running out after Jule Brand had robbed Wubben-Moy of the ball.

As it happened: Arsenal 2-3 Wolfsburg (aet, agg: 4-5)

Visa Player of the Match: Jill Roord (Wolfsburg)

"Scored a goal and was a constant threat near the box and finding space between the lines. Her ball retention was great too, along with her committed pressing."
UEFA Technical Observer panel

Semi-final second leg: Player of the Match

Lynsey Hooper, Arsenal reporter

Arsenal have defied so many odds to reach this stage given the key injuries that have disrupted their season. Eidevall praised the resilience on show in the first leg and it was on full display again in front of a sell-out home crowd. Blackstenius had one of her sharpest performances and put the Gunners in front. It was then Wolfsburg's turn to take hold of the match through Roord and Popp, but Beattie headed in an equaliser to keep her side dreaming of the final in Eindhoven. That dream continued all the way through extra time, only to be shattered by Bremer in the final minutes.

Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen, Wolfsburg reporter

After throwing away a 2-0 lead in the first leg, Wolfsburg travelled to London seeking to make things right. The hosts pushed them right to the brink, and in the end it was Wolfsburg's ability to draw on their bench that saw them advance to the final for the sixth time in 11 seasons. They didn't let the pressure get to them, digging deep to clinch a 3-2 win in extra time in a memorable tie. Next stop: Eindhoven!

Reaction

Tommy Stroot, Wolfsburg coach: "We accomplished something tonight that can't be taken for granted. We beat an extremely tough opponent and are among the top two teams in Europe. We can be incredibly proud of that and can take the time to celebrate that tonight.

"It's moments like [the celebrations at the final whistle] that are part of why I became a coach, when the whistle goes and I see everyone run on to the pitch and can just be proud of what's happened.

"Pauli [Bremer] has an incredible mentality. Even with all the injury setbacks that she's had, she's always kept going. She's adapted really well to coming off the bench. Pauli has something special and can always pose a threat on goal, which is why we brought her on."

Jill Roord, VISA Player of the Match and Wolfsburg midfielder: "I personally was super overwhelmed. I think it was such a tough game. We're behind, we're in front. Actually, I thought it was going to go to penalties.

"It's a really good felling. For me, being in a final is also something new – I haven't gone that far in the Champions League. It's like a dream. It's going to be a tough challenge. It's one game, 90 minutes hopefully, and I think anything can happen. We need to be brave and we have nothing to lose."

Roord: 'It's overwhelming'

Jonas Eidevall, Arsenal coach: "It's tough, no doubt about it, as it was a game of such fine margins. I think we are allowed to hurt tonight and feel empty, but we are also allowed to feel proud of our performance and the occasion with the supporters, who were magnificent.

"We made it to the Champions League semi-final and lost by the tiniest of margins. With all the injuries we have, with all the challenges we have, I am incredibly proud."

Jen Beattie, Arsenal defender: "To give absolutely everything in the way that we did and for it to go to extra time, to lose in virtually the last few minutes of the game, that is a really tough one to take. But I'm still so proud of the girls and everything that we've done, given the amount of injuries we have. It shows the mentality and that we all stuck together.

"No matter who's on the pitch we all have the belief that we have the quality to win a game. Of course, we didn't manage to get over the last hurdle, but I think we have the ultimate respect for our opposition. They gave us such a huge challenge. We know we can compete at the highest level."

Stina Blackstenius, Arsenal forward: "I feel empty at the moment. It was a very tough game and it's tough to concede a goal like that, but I'm so proud of how the team has done in the Champions League. We've come back in so many games and got so close to the final. I'm so proud but it's so tough to take."

Beattie: 'I'm immensely proud'

Key stats

  • Wolfsburg are into their sixth final (joint-second all-time with Frankfurt) and will aim for their third title.
  • This was only the third UEFA women's club semi-final to go to extra time, and the first since 2009/10 when Turbine Potsdam and a Duisburg team including Popp locked horns. Both those previous ties (the other in 2002/03 involved Frankfurt and Umeå) ended in a penalty shoot-out.
  • This was the first Arsenal tie in this competition to go to extra time since the inaugural 2001/02 quarter-final second leg at Toulouse, when the Gunners lost what was their first knockout encounter in this competition.
  • Svenja Huth played her 50th European game.
  • Popp scored her 150th goal for Wolfsburg in all competitions.
  • The attendance of 60,063 is a record for a women's club game in the United Kingdom and this competition's fourth best (and highest outside Camp Nou).
  • Not only were Beattie and Popp both involved when Wolfsburg won the 2012/13 semi-final between these clubs, but also when Popp's Duisburg defeated Arsenal in the 2009/10 last eight.
The record-breaking sell-out crowd
The record-breaking sell-out crowdArsenal FC via Getty Images

Line-ups

Arsenal: Zinsberger; Wubben-Moy, Beattie (Agyemang 119), Rafaelle; Maritz (Wienroither 64, Kühl 82), Maanum, Wälti, Pelova; Catley, Blackstenius (Hurtig 64), Pelova

Wolfsburg: Frohms; Wilms (Hegering 106), Hendrich, Janssen, Rauch; Oberdorf, Popp; Huth (Bremer 90), Roord, Jónsdóttir (Brand 101); Pajor (Wassmuth 77)

What's next?

Wolfsburg are up against Barcelona in the final on Saturday 3 June at PSV Stadion, Eindhoven.