A stunning first-half opener from Melissa Lawley followed by goals after the break from Kirsty Linnett and Kerys Harrop helped wrap up a 3-0 victory over PK-35 Vantaa at the ISS Stadion on the outskirts of Helsinki.
The result now puts Blues in a strong position heading into next Wednesday’s second-leg at Stratford Town’s DCS Stadium (2pm kick-off).
Lawley helped to set the tone for a largely dominant display from the visitors. The forward had already shown glimpses of her goal-scoring intentions prior to her opener. In the seventh minute, Lawley’s 18-yard drive looked set to find the top right corner only to be tipped over by a desperate attempt from Racheal Ayegba.
Lawley gave Ayegba a glimpse of what was to come with a similar effort in the 13th minute that proved easy for the Nigerian goalkeeper to gather.
However there was no stopping the forward when she drifted in from the left in the 23rd minute before bending a delightful effort beyond the outstretched Ayegba.
That said, Blues did suffer minor scares towards the end of the first-half. Goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer was called into action in quick succession to make a last-gasp clearance outside her box to deny Sanni Franssi before keeping out a tricky and deflected effort from Sanna Saarinen.
However the wind was firmly taken out of the Finns’ sails five minutes into the second-half when Linnett got her head on the end of Karen Carney’s right-wing cross to watch the chance bounce in off the underside of the bar.
The result was sealed in the 70th minute with Carney again the provider. The England international’s free-kick from the left was met by a tame punch from Ayegba that fell to Harrop 12 yards out and the defender made no mistake to hammer home a third.
See how the action unfolded kick-by-kick below via our free live blog service.
Blues Ladies: Spencer, Weston, Harrop, Bassett, Christiansen, Linnett (Wilkinson 80), Carney, Potter (Simpkins 89), Moore, Lawley, Westwood.
Subs not used: Myers, Torkildsen, Mannion, George, Haines.
Scorers: Melissa Lawley, Kirsty Linnett, Kerys Harrop.
PK-35 Vantaa: Ayegba, Leppikangas, Kivela, Korhonen, Velaj (Parikka H/T), Bisset, Saarinen, Ojanpera (Salmi 82), Hirvonen, Kivisto (Peltonen 32), Franssi.
Subs not used: Myllyoja, Ruutu, Koso,