Arsenal dare to dream of the Champions League and a permanent home in the Emirates

Frida Maanum – Frida Maanum’s magic propels Arsenal Women into Women’s Champions League semi-finals – Getty Images/Catherine Ivill

Arsenal Women 2 Bayern Munich Women 0; Total 2:1

Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall believes his team is on the cusp of ‘history’ and approaching the Emirates Stadium, which will become the permanent home of the women’s side after they enjoyed their best night there yet as they defeated German giants Bayern Munich defeated to reach the women’s champion league semi-finals.

This Arsenal side’s coming-of-age performance sent them into the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in 10 years, and they did it in front of a crowd of 21,307, a new England record for a women’s Champions League game, something Eidevall feels vindicated in his decision to play all European games at the larger venue rather than at their usual home in Borehamwood.

“I feel like we’re seeing history being made very quickly in front of our eyes when I see the crowds and culture here at Emirates Stadium. Five years ago if someone had said that Arsenal have long-term plans to move permanently to the Emirates Stadium, people would probably have been like, ‘How is that going to go?’ but I think people understand that now could be a realistic vision for the future,” said a proud Eidevall.

Substantial attendance at the Emirates is no new thing for the women’s team – they have seen crowds in excess of 40,000 on three occasions in the Women’s Super League, including the WSL record 47,367 for the North London derby in September. However, this was their best performance under the spotlight for a European game on this ground and they now meet either Wolfsburg or Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals.

They now have every hope of reaching the final in June, having eliminated a Bayern Munich side who have conceded just four league goals all season and are at the top of the women’s table after beating closest rivals Wolfsburg on Saturday Bundesliga stands. It was a Bayern side full of international stars, from Germany’s Lina Magull to England’s Georgia Stanway, but they were disappointed when the English club’s highly intense first half blew the Germans away.

“If we get everything perfect then we have the potential to beat any team,” added Eidevall. “It’s not to say it’s perfect every time, but we have that potential as a team – wouldn’t it be incredible to see how high we can fly together? If we get it right, we can beat any team. Nothing can be taken for granted, every opponent prepares even better [to face Arsenal] Now.”

1-0 down in first leg in Munich Arsenal, the only British women’s club to ever win a European title, got off to the worst possible start in 2007 when captain Kim Little had to leave the field injured. Nonetheless, Arsenal secured the early goal they craved when Norway’s Frida Maanum fired a rocket from just outside the box straight into the top corner after Leah Williamson set her up with a clean shot. As the home crowd’s hopes rose after that hair-raising goal, so did the Arsenal player’s confidence and soon they were causing all sorts of problems for the German side.

As the hosts pressure mounted, Katie McCabe clipped a welcome cross from the left and Stina Blackstenius headed in to spark moments of joy in the stands. They should have scored more goals but that didn’t matter on the night of their dreams.

Things could get better for English women’s football on Thursday when Chelsea meet holders Lyon. Chelsea lead this tie 1-0 on aggregate ahead of Thursday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge. In Wednesday’s early kick-off, competition favorites Barcelona scored five goals against Roma at the Camp Nou to secure a 6-1 aggregate win after leading 1-0 in the first leg.

game details

Arsenal Women (4-3-3): Zinsberger; Maritz, Williamson, Rafaelle, McCabe (Hurtig, 89); Little (Wubben-Moy, 12), Maanum, Wälti; Pelova (Wienroither, 77), Blackstenius (Beattie, 89), Foord.
Substitutes not used: D’Angelo (gk), Marckese (gk), Cool, Goldie, Agyemang, Reid.
Booked: Wubben-Moy, Rafaelle, Maritz.
Goals: Maanum (19), Blackstenius (26).
Bayern Munich Women (4-3-3): grohs; Rall (Laurent, 80), Viggosdottir, Kumagai, Hansen; Zadrazil (Lohmann, 80), Stanway, Magull (Rudelic, 88); Bühl, Schüller (Vilhjalmsdottir, 88), Kett (Damnjanovic, 64).
Substitutes not used: Benkarth (gk), Runarsdottir (gk), Bragstad, Landenberger, Gloning.
Booked: Kett, Damnjanovic, Stanway.
Referee: Marta Huerta de Aza (Spain).
Participation: 21.307.

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