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Blues Ladies 2 Verona 0

Posted: Wed 26 Sep 2012
Author: Chris Quinn

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Blues Ladies began their inaugural UEFA Women's Champions League campaign with a convincing 2-0 win over Italian giants Verona.

Goals from Rachel Williams and Kerys Harrop (pictured) were enough to secure an advantage for David Parker’s side to take with them to the away leg next Wednesday.

The home side got off to a bright start and looked full of confidence following the weekend win over Doncaster Belles.

Four minutes were on the clock when Karen Carney slipped a ball into the feet of Jodie Taylor who laid the ball off to Williams, but the England striker could only fire wide from the edge of the box.

Jo Potter then struck a 30-yard free-kick inches wide following a foul from Marina Aggio. The Serie A runners-up had their first shot on the Blues goal in the 7th minute when a loose free-kick was struck by Marta Carissimi, but it was straight at Marie Hourihan in the home goal.

Set-pieces were the order of the day for both sides as the Italians threatened again, but when Girelli latched on to another stray ball in the Blues box, she also found Hourihan in her way.

The 13th minute was almost lucky for Potter as she again tried her luck from range. This time, she came equally as close as her curling effort from 25 yards dipped just too late and nestled on the roof of the net.

Blues were getting into their rhythm and Potter was creating all the chances. Her free-kick in the 15th minute was met by Williams, but she could only nod over from eight yards out. That same combination linked up again just three minutes later, as Potter’s deep cross found Williams at the back post, but she nodded just over again under pressure.

Crosses into the Team GB star seemed to be Blues’ best chance of breaking the deadlock as Williams again beat the visitors defence in the air from a Chelsea Weston cross. However, under intense pressure again, she could not generate much power in her header and it was saved by Stephanie Ohrstrom.

As the first-half drew to an end, Blues were almost gifted the goal their efforts deserved. It was another Weston cross that caused the danger and Federica Di Criscio bypassed Ohrstrom with an attempted header back, only for team mate Maria Karlsson to spare her blushes with a goal-line clearance.

The break did not seem to affect Parker’s side as they came out with the same attacking verve as the first period.

A Carney corner was cleared by the visitors, but Potter picked up the loose ball and played a sublime reverse pass in behind the defence back to Carney. The England international looked up, but could not beat Ohrstrom at her near post. The Verona stopper was called into action again moments later, this time saving from potter who had got free at the back-post.

The pressure was being piled on by the home side and in the 52nd minute, they got their reward. A Bassett cross from the right corner was deflected into the path of Williams, who fired past the helpless Ohrstrom. The goal had an element of luck about it, but it was fully warranted for a side that had dominated proceedings.

Back at the other end, Bassett denied her opposing captain Melania Gabbiadini with a superb last-ditch tackle following Girelli’s ball over the top of the defence.

A minute past the hour mark, Ohrstrom unconvincingly punched a Potter delivery to the feet of Moore, but her first-time volley flew over the crossbar.

It was all Blues in the second half and they scored a crucial second goal in the 70th minute.

Again, the influential Potter delivered a good free-kick to the back post, Williams climbed highest to nod the ball to Harrop, who returned the pass. Williams fired at the keeper but Harrop had followed up her original pass to tap home into an empty net and seal the game.

Blues then sat off and allowed Verona to push forward, but they never threatened the hosts’ defence who were in imperious form.

The home side had late chances to extend their lead through Potter and Taylor, who hit the post, but the game finished up 2-0, much to the crowd’s delight.

Blues: Marie Hourihan; Chelsea Weston, Emily Westwood, Laura Bassett (c), Kerys Harrop; Karen Carney, Jade Moore, Jo Potter, Isobel Christiansen; Rachel Williams, Jodie Taylor.
Subs not used: Rebecca Spencer, Emily Simpkins, Anna Wilcox, Hannah George, Rachel Unitt, marie Ballard, Cristina Torkildsen

Goals: Williams (52), Harrop (70)

Bookings: Moore (35), Carney (87)

Verona (in numercial order): Stephanie Ohrstrom; Marina Aggio, Maria Karlsson, Federica Di Criscio, Silvia Toselli (Martina Battochio, (73),  Melania Gabbiadini (c), Tatiana Zorri, Cristina Girelli, Claudio Squizzato, Marta Carissimi, Marta Mason (Valentina Maceri, 53)
Subs not used: Sabrina Tasselli, Elena Maffezoni, Veronica Belfanti, Valentina Maceri, Mirella Capelloni, Martina Gelmetti

Bookings: Squizzato (44), Maceri (85)

Attendance: 211

Referee: Thalia Mitsi