The draw for the knockout stages of the inaugural UEFA Women's Cup has been made.
The draw for the knockout stages of the inaugural UEFA Women's Cup has been made at the fourth UEFA Conference on Women's Football in Oberhausen, Germany, with surprise package HJK Helsinki being paired with SK Trondheims-Orn in a two-legged quarter-final.
Upset the formbook
The Finnish side upset the formbook in the qualifying series by beating Italian champions Torres Terra Sarda into second place in Group Five. HJK set the scene for their success in the first match of their mini-tournament, triumphing 2-1 over the Sardinian side in the Töölön Pallokenttä stadium. Timo Lounio's side went on to win their remaining two matches in the group and they will now put their unbeaten record on the line against the Norwegian outfit.
Trondheim were in equally impressive form as they raced to the summit of Group One, conceding just one goal and scoring 23, including nine without reply against KR Reykjavík and eight against KSC Eendracht Aalst. Second-placed FC Bobruichanka were the only side to score against them, but that was merely a consolation in a 6-1 defeat. Trondheim will enjoy home advantage in the first leg, to be played on 16 March, with the return coming a fortnight later in Helsinki.
The winners of that tie will meet whoever emerges victorious from the quarter-final between Umeå IK and TNK Ryazan in the last four. Umeå, the Swedish champions, made the most of their home advantage as they triumphed in the Group Three mini-tournament with three wins out of three. Their bid to reach the semi-finals should not prove so straightforward as their Russian opponents blitzed their Group Two rivals with a superb show of free-flowing football, scoring 28 goals and conceding none. Ryazan looked a class above their opponents in Sassenheim, the Netherlands, and their last two matches turned into target practice against outclassed opposition. Umeå will be looking to secure a first-leg lead when they entertain Ryazan on 17 March.
Odense BK face a difficult test over two legs against 1. FFC Frankfurt, the German league champions and Cup holders. Odense assured themselves of a place in the quarter-finals by topping Group Six. The Danish side's final game in the section was a winner-takes-all showdown with ZFK Masinac-Classic Niš. Merete Pedersen scored two goals, taking her tally to eight in three games, as Peer Danefeld's side ran out 3-1 winners.
'All tough to play'
Frankfurt midfield player Pia Wunderlich knows how difficult it will be to win the match and the Women's Cup. She told uefa.com: "Our next opponent, Odense BK, is very strong. I have heard that almost every player in that team is a Danish international. Besides Odense and us, there are all the other Scandinavian champions still in the competition and I think that they all are tough to play."
Survived a scare
Arsenal FC or Toulouse FC await the winners of the Odense versus Frankfurt match in the semi-finals, which will be played in April ahead of the final at the end of May. Arsenal survived a scare against KS AZS Wroclaw in the final game of their mini-tournament in Bern to top Group Eight. The Poles put the English champions' qualification hopes in serious jeopardy when they took the lead in the first minute but the Londoners hit back through Angela Banks and Marianne Spacey. Tony Adams, the captain of Arsenal's men's team, said: "With such an impressive domestic record as well as the international experience of many of our girls, the ladies are sure to make a positive impact in their challenge for European honours."
More miserly in London
Of the eight clubs remaining in the competition, Toulouse were the only side not to win all of their three group matches. They triumphed in their first two games before being held by Ayr United LFC, the hosts of the mini-tournament, in the final game. The French side did race into a two-goal lead but allowed the Scottish club to fight back and salvage a 2-2 draw. Jean Pierre Bonnet's side will hope to be more miserly when they travel to London for the first leg of their quarter-final on 16 March.