Champions League Round of 32 First Leg
Petershill Park, Glasgow
Conditions were near perfect as the two sides entered the field of play with Scotland’s Champions hoping to repeat last seasons heroics and reaching the last 16 of the pinacle of trophies.
With the formalities over, the game began with City having high expectations of winning this match but their hopes were dashed by an early goal for the Danish side, coming from a cross from the right by Igbo, which was met by Nadim on the volley at close range. Two minutes played and City were down 1 – 0 and of course a vital away goal.
City did create numerous opportunities during this match but the standard of finishing was generally below par and out of character. This was evident in the first period when shots were going everywhere but the target.
Fortuna’s keeper Maria Christensen had to be quick off her line to save at the feet of Jo Love, displaying bravery and great technique in the process.
At the other end Claire Johnstone was asked to do the same as Weimer squared the ball into the box for Smidt-Hansen but Johnstone was there to show that she too could be quick off the mark.
Leanne Ross began to find her feet and length of pass, setting up Ruesha Littlejohn, whose effort was too direct at the Danish side’s keeper. This was followed by a longer shot by Jane Ross but once more, it was straight at Christensen.
City’s Emma Mitchell was put through by a long ball over the top but shot well off target whilst being closely chaperoned by Mette Jenson and Line Sigvardsen-Jenson.
The rain began to increase its intensity as City pushed for that vital first goal. They had much of the possession but were often bullied off the ball by stronger opponents. They weren’t losing the ball in tackles but through their opponents being stronger in the shoulder challenge as they bossed the midfield in particular. Something City will have to address in the second leg if they are to go into the next round.
With 31 minutes gone, the Glasgow side were dealt another cruel blow as Nadia Nadim shot from the left side of the box; Johnstone did get a hand to it but she could only slow it down as it the ball hit the opposite corner. There was no doubt it was a wonderful strike but one now feared for our Champions.
Fortuna had proved they are no mugs and can play football to at least the standard of Eddie Wolecki Black’s side, meaning the away leg was going to be an uphill struggle unless the Scots could turn this game around.
Things could have been worse when Chi-Chi Igbo broke into the box and but for the legs of Claire Johnstone, it would have been three goals behind for the side in orange. Good goalkeeping from City’s number one.
City huffed and puffed but just couldn’t find a way of putting the ball in the back of the net. Mitchell’s effort from the left was again, too direct to trouble Christensen.
Johnstone was called into action again Sofie Junge Pederson broke down the left before setting up Igbo, whose brilliant shot brought out a fantastic save from Johnstone.
Then disaster for Glasgow City as Eilish McSorlay pulled down Igbo in the box, with the player going nowhere. Fortunately for McSorlay, the referee agreed it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity and issued just the yellow card.
Nadia Nadim stepped up to take the spot kick in search of her hat-trick but Johnstone guessed correctly, diving to her left to pull of a championship saving stop; one that gave her side hope for the second period at the very least.
The whistle blew for the interval and City knew the missed spot kick was a huge let off but could they capitalise on it?
Half-Time: City 0 Fortuna 2
Glasgow City’s first half performance left a lot to be desired, especially their ability to finish in front of goal. If they were to have any chance of progressing, things would have to improve drastically and fast!
The Glasgow giants did indeed come out all guns blazing. Jane Ross’ attempted lob from the edge of the box, landing on the roof of the net but still it was a sign that we were heading in the right direction.
From a corner, three City players rose for the ball, one of which sent it goal bound and but for the acrobatic save from Christensen, it would have sneaked under the bar. Fantastic goalkeeping!
City were still losing the possession too cheaply and being muscled off the ball and the pressure began to show amongst some players. Others issued war cries as they desperately fought to get into this match.
Jane Ross sent in an awesome shot which again, Christensen saved acrobatically, taking the ball at the second attempt. What a match both keepers were having.
Tiffany Weimer had a strike for Fortuna, which Johnstone produced another in a line of splendid saves.
Emma Mitchell had a sublime shot from distance, which had the crowd on their feet but once more it was not to be as the ball hit the top of the net.
Mitchell then hit a wonderful free-kick from the right of the box, 22 yards or so out. Christensen however, was equal to it with yet another stunning save, one-handed to tip the ball high over the bar. It was going to take something special to beat this girl.
That special something came minutes later and once again, the fans were on their feet applauding. An absolute screamer of a shot from Jane Ross, hit sweetly with her left foot from the right side of the box, where it was seen curling its way into the top left corner, despite a valiant effort from Christensen, she had been finally beaten. This was a memorable goal and one that everyone in attendance savoured.
Now the local favourites had the bit between their teeth and took great confidence from Ross’ spectacular shot. They began to play fluent football, neat little passes along the floor, long balls hitting their desired targets – this was the Glasgow City we had come to see.
Emma Mitchell drove one in from distance that whizzed beyond the upright as city dominated the match for the first time but it was too late to gain any real advantage. If they had performed like that from the outset, they could easily have gone into the second leg with at least a draw or a small lead.
They will be up against it in Denmark but there is little doubt if they can raise their game, they can turn this around.
Player of the match: This was a tough one. Chi-Chi Igbo was certainly in the running but was replaced in the second period and Nadia Nadim was outstanding and had she converted the penalty kick, she would certainly have been a contender. But I thought Maria Christensen’s awesome display of goalkeeping was remarkable and thus, I have chosen the girl that kept City at bay as the Player of the Match.
City: Johnstone, McSorley, Love, Murray, Crichton, Mitchell, J. Ross, Docherty, Corsie, Fernon, L. Ross Subs: Alexander, Pagliarulo, Melrose, Littlejohn, Dalziel, McDonald, Barnes
Fortuna: Christensen, M. Jensen, J. Jensen, S. Pederson, Mogenson, Woods, Sigvardsen-Jenson, Weimer, Nadim, Igbo, Smidt-Hansen Subs: T. Jensen, K. Pederson, Rask, Molgaard, Kristensen, Hoveson, Larsen