Arsenal qualified for the Champions League group stage with a 3-2 aggregate win over Ajax, but had to overcome a series of odd circumstances to secure their place in this season’s competition.
Arsenal manager Jonas Edvall tried to use a concussion substitute after Beth Meade was forced off with a head injury in the second half but was rejected, while there were discrepancies about the height of the two posts before kick-off.
“Playing against a big club like Ajax, where we had to measure goals before the match started… I’ve never experienced anything like that to be honest,” said Edevaal, confused in the wake of the win, which was guaranteed by Vivian Miedema.
The Netherlands international’s early goal in the second half gave Arsenal a 1-0 win in their home country of the Netherlands after they tied 2-2 in the first leg. The draw for the Champions League group stage will take place on 3 October and matches will start from 19 October.
Arsenal put in a superb display in windy conditions in the Dutch capital and could have taken the lead in the first 20 minutes, but Stena Plaxtenius fired straight at the Ajax goalkeeper.
Midema showed her class and no nerves settled six minutes into the second half when she fired home in style, finding the corner from 20 yards after a dynamic push toward goal.
The Dutchman could have added a second soon after but her shot was saved by Liz Kopp.
Arsenal had a panicked last 20 minutes when Taine Hoekstra was stabbed away at close range after a fine job by Nadine Nordam. But Edval survived and put their name in the hat in Monday’s group stage draw.
Edval: a strange experience
Arsenal coach Jonas Edval said:
“It was a very strange experience here. I think UEFA has removed the sub-concussion, and they still have the concussion protocol which means the doctor makes the decision. There is no doubt that Beth [Mead] You must take it off.
“The problem I have is that I asked the fourth official if we could do a concussion and she said yes, that’s why we’re getting ready for us, and then when we’re going to do that she said no.
“We had that two or three minute break and we could have spent a lot of that time talking to the players about how we were going to defend with 10. So I think that’s misinformation from the referee. I honestly don’t know how and why that could be, Because for me it’s just a simple yes or no question.
“In Sweden – where I come from – in ice hockey it’s very big. If you deal with the head, they realize how dangerous it is, they are very harsh to punish violence towards the head.
“If that’s not a red card for heading towards a head like that – I know it doesn’t mean it – but it’s careless. And in the end, it’s neglect that puts Beth in real danger. I just hope she’s okay.”
Rangers approach Benfica before they lose
Rangers saw their hopes of reaching the women’s Champions League group stage ended in a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Benfica after young substitute Emma Watson scored a dramatic late goal.
Benfica, who defended their 3-2 lead from the first leg at Ibrox, dominated but failed to convert many chances as Rangers goalkeeper Victoria Esson saved a series of impressive saves.
Just three minutes before the end of the match, 16-year-old Watson managed to advance from a corner kick to send the equalizer into overtime.
Chloe Lacas equalized early on the night before Lucia Alves was sent off for a second caution and Jessica Silva wrapped things up with another goal for the hosts in the second half as Benfica led 5-3 on aggregate.
UEFA Champions League second round results:
Slavia Prague 0-0 Valor (1-0 g)
falezia 2-1 Forscla Poltava (3-2 g)
Rosengard 3-1 Bran (4-2 kg)
Hacken 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain (1-4 kg)
Ajax 0-1 Arsenal (2-3 kg)
St. Polten 2-2 cups (3-2 kg)
Zurich 3-0 Sarajevo (10-0 g)
Real Madrid 2-1 Rosenberg (5-1 mg)
Benfica 2-1 Rangers (5-3 mg)
Juventus 2-0 koji (3-1 mg)
After Arsenal won their opening two WSL matches, they head to bottom club Reading after the international break on Sunday, October 16, with the match starting at 6.45pm and the match continues. Sky Sports.