It was an eventful final qualifying round in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with all the British and Irish sides acquitting themselves well.
Sadly, Linfield Ladies were unable to come out on top in their winner-takes-all game against an excellent Anderlecht side, going down 3-1 at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels. Deloose scored twice for the hosts in the first half and, although Kirsty McGuinness got one back from the spot on 55 minutes, the Belgians sealed their win through Coryn eleven minutes later.
It was better news for Hibernian, although they made heavier weather than expected of their 2-1 win over Slovenia’s WFC Pomurge. Hibs sailed into a two-goal lead inside 36 minutes through Jamie-Lee Napier and Lauren Davidson. But Prsa converted from the penalty spot on half time, which made the game nervier than it perhaps should have been. Nonetheless, Grant Scott’s team held on and took Group 3.
In the same group, Cardiff Met saved their best ‘til last. Always an outside bet, given the precise result needed in the other game, they did their part and routed FC Nike 5-1. Madison ‘Maddy’ Schupbach scored a first half brace, Naomi Clipston chipped in with a double of her own, delivering a goal at the end of each period, and Robyn Pinder’s contribution made it a five-star outing. Cardiff finished as runners up to Hibs in the Group and have achieved the best ever performance by a Welsh team in the competition.
Wexford Youths also went on a goal spree, hammering Birkirkara 7-2 in Marijampole. Although the match was effectively a dead rubber, they finished in second place behind Albania’s Vllaznia, who got the point they needed against Gintra.
Kylie Murphy opened the scoring on 32 minutes and went on to seal her hat-trick with two more strikes after the hour. Rianna Jarrett bagged a brace, with McKenna Davidson and Ciara Rossiter also getting in on the act.
“Great to finish our campaign on such a positive result. Both the players and backroom staff have been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for anymore from them. We wanted to come here and compete and that’s exactly what we did!”Tom Elmes, Wexford Youths Manager, via Twitter, 13/08/2019
The full list of qualified teams from the preliminary stage is as follows:
- Group 1 – Breidablik (ISL);
- Group 2 – Mitrovica (KOS);
- Group 3 – Hibernian (SCO);
- Group 4 – Minsk (BLR);
- Group 5 – Spartak Subotica (SRB);
- Group 6 – BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ);
- Group 7 – Braga (POR);
- Group 8 – Anderlecht (BEL);
- Group 9 – Twente (NED);
- Group 10 – Vllaznia (ALB).
Only Spartak Subotica ended up on a tie with Hungary’s Ferencváros. They drew 2-2 with each other in the final round of games, which means the Serbian side go through on good old-fashioned goal difference – the way it should be…