Match report by Campbell Finlayson. Photo via @UWCL on Twitter.
Lee Alexander was the spot kick hero for Glasgow City as they defeated Brøndby on penalties to reach the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals. Danish champions Brøndby had won the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Nanna Christiansen and Frederikke Lindhardt but Alexander made a number of crucial saves in the match as well as three in the shoot-out to see City through.
The game began at a fast pace with Megan Foley almost getting on the end of Rachel McLauchlan’s cross from the right, but it was Brøndby who had the first shot on target, Nicoline Sørensen forcing Alexander into a good save.
It was the Danes who then took the lead in the fifth minute with a delightful cross from Emilie Henriksen finding the head of Christiansen who looped a header over Alexander.
They almost made it two when Lindhardt got in behind McLauchlan on the left before firing a ball across goal which was almost converted by the outstretched leg of Josefine Hasbo. City were struggling to cope with balls into the box and had Alexander to thank for keeping the score at one with Lindhardt’s header finding Christiansen who volleyed towards goal.
Scott Booth’s side did manage an effort of their own when Leanne Ross’ clever set-piece found Clare Shine who could only scuff her volley wide. City then went close to finding an equaliser moments later when Hayley Lauder played Shine in behind the defence and she cut it back to Sam Kerr who saw her shot diverted behind by Katrine Abel.
That miss would prove costly as Brøndby levelled the score on aggregate after Jo Love failed to clear, allowing Lindhardt to lift the ball over Alexander into the corner.
Alexander was called into action again shortly before half time, pushing away a fierce strike from Caroline Pleidrup, with Hasbo unable to nod home the rebound.
The home side were on the front foot right at the start of the second half and were close to finding the net when Lauder struck from distance, her shot flying just over. Brøndby did have a great chance soon after though, the referee waving away claims of handball against Louise Kristiansen, allowing Sørensen in on goal, but Alexander was quick out to block.
City survived another scare when McLauchlan wanted too much time on the ball, letting Lindhart in on goal, but once more Alexander was able to keep the ball out. The Scottish champions then raced down the other end where Megan Foley’s shot hit the side netting.
A corner from Christiansen almost caught City out when it somehow squirmed through to hit the front post, but the hosts managed to clear as both sides pressed for a goal to move ahead on aggregate. Sørensen found herself through on goal again with six minutes to go; however, Alexander kept up her inspired form to deny the striker.
Neither side could find that all important goal though and the match went into extra time.
Brøndby had a glorious chance to add a third at the start of the additional half hour when City again failed to clear before the ball fell to Julie Tavlo-Petersson, who could only drag her shot wide. At the other end, Kerr found space to shoot on the angle but her powerful effort was too high.
Nicola Docherty had had a quiet night by her standards but she did make one of her trademark bursts down the left wing, before whipping in a cross with her right foot that narrowly missed the far post.
With half-time in extra time looming, City came within inches of grabbing a goal as Jenna Clark’s header came crashing off the bar, with Kerr unable to force the rebound past Abel. The dangerous Howat then got in behind down the right but her inviting ball across goal had no takers as the Danes survived a scare.
City had one last chance in extra time when Ross stepped up to take a free-kick 25 yards from goal, with the home crowd hoping she could score another stunner, but her effort went wide and it was on to penalties.
It was City who went first and they moved ahead through Ross but Christiansen did just enough to beat Alexander to make it 1-1. The next two spot-kicks were saved with both Howat and Tevlo-Petersson denied by the opposing keeper.
Late substitute Eilish McSorley then put City back in front before Freja Abildà was denied by Alexander. Foley though was denied, leaving Kristiansen the chance to level again, but once more Alexander was equal to the shot.
That left Love with the chance to win it for City and she duly obliged, sticking the ball into the top corner to send Glasgow City into the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals. The draw takes place on Friday 8th November, but the ties won’t be played until March next year.
Glasgow City: Alexander; McLauchlan, Ross, Clark, Docherty; Kerr (McSorley, 120), Love, Lauder (Sinclair, 113), Foley; Howat, Shine (Girasoli, 113)
Brøndby: Abel; Henriksen, Karlsen, Svensson, Pleidrup; Tavlo-Petersson, Kristiansen; Hasbo (Ringsing, 114), Christiansen, Lindhardt (Winther, 87) (Abildà, 118); Sørensen