Sunday, June 4, 2023

Beattie salutes Arsenal spirit as Gunners roar back to boost Champions League final hopes

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Apr 2023


Jen Beattie hailed Arsenal’s “unbelievable character” as they stayed alive in their Women’s Champions League semi-final by rallying for a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

An impressive fightback from 2-0 down gave Arsenal plenty of reason to be buoyant about their chances for the May 1 second leg at Emirates Stadium.

With ACL victims Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and Leah Williamson absent, the weakened Gunners gave a strong account of themselves after a slow start in Germany.

Ewa Pajor put the hosts ahead and Sveindis Jonsdottir fired Wolfsburg two clear in the 24th minute after a defensive aberration from the Gunners, with a misunderstanding in the penalty area presenting the Icelandic forward with an easy chance in front of goal.

Arsenal snatched a lifeline through Rafaelle Souza’s header just before half-time, and Stina Blackstenius tucked in an equaliser from close range in the 69th minute.

Player of the match Beattie told “I think the team showed unbelievable character to come back from a two-goal deficit. We’re pleased with the result, but it’s very much half-time for us. We’re looking forward to going back to the Emirates next week with a blank slate.”

Wolfsburg edged the expected goals (xG) totals by 2.32 to 1.40, having 12 shots to seven from Arsenal, but the teams are level-pegging and defender Beattie put that down to the WSL team’s resilience.

“We’ve shown that this whole season – the character, the mentality we all have, and the genuine belief we all have between players,” said the 31-year-old Scot.

“We’re really happy that we came back from 2-0 down: that’s a huge feat, especially against a side as good as Wolfsburg. We had the ultimate respect for them and we still do going into the second leg.”

Arsenal are hoping for a sell-out for the second leg, as they bid to move a step nearer to becoming European club champions for a second time, having triumphed in 2007.

Beattie spoke of enjoying “incredible” atmospheres when Arsenal Women have played at the club’s main stadium previously, adding: “Even the away fans that travelled today have been unbelievable, especially hearing them towards the end of the game. I’ve no doubt they’ll be unbelievable again for us next week.”

Wolfsburg head coach Tommy Stroot sensed a chance missed, regretting the goals his team conceded.

He said: “We knew that it would be a close game, and our 2-0 lead flattered us a bit. We were very clinical at the start. The goals we conceded came from a set-piece and a counter-attack, which we should be able to deal with.”


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