Glasgow City were the only British side to win on the opening day of the 2011/2012 Women’s Champions League with a 4-0 win over ŽFK Spartak at the Gradski Stadium in Subotica.
Two goals each for strikers Christie Murray and Kat Lindner gave the Scottish champions the perfect start to their fourth season playing in Europe’s premier competition, as their Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts fell.
Welsh champions Swansea City Ladies conceded two goals in the last four minutes in Paphos as they went down 2-0 to Ukrainian champions Legenda Chernigiv, while Crusaders were demolished 7-0 in Osijek by Belarussian team Bobruichanka.
Top seeds for the first time in the Champions League, Glasgow City began the match nervously before the ball was brilliantly won by Clare Gemmell in midfield. The City midfielder then picked out Jo Love, who in turn found Champions League debutant Murray, and the City striker spun and hit an outstanding right-foot shot into the top corner to put the Scottish Champions 1-0 up, and ease a few nerves in the must win game.
Jane Ross and Jo Love both tested Spartak goalkeeper Ljiljana Gardijan from the edge of the box in the opening 20 minutes before Kat Lindner made it 2-0. A long ball from Spartak was cut out by the head of Eilish McSorley before travelling all the way to Lindner who took a touch before finishing low past the keeper.
City made it 3-0 on 27 minutes when brilliant link-up play between Lindner and Murray saw Murray side foot home at the edge of the six yard box after the strike partnership had ripped the Spartak defence apart.
The two combined again moments later, resulting in a tantalising ball across the face of the goal, which Jane Ross was just inches from converting. It could have been a lot worse for Spartak, but for some excellent goalkeeping from Gardijan, to deny Love and Jane Ross in particular.
In the second half, and with a comfortable lead, City continued to dominate the game with some fine passing and movement, with Murray, McSorley, and captain Rachel Corsie all going close. Some outstanding play amongst the City players resulted in a wall pass at the edge of the box between Love and Emma Mitchell, the latter’s shot hit the post.
With 25 minutes left on the clock, Jane Ross was replaced by Lisa Evans and shortly after coming on, the Scotland international had two efforts just wide of goal as she tried to put her side further ahead.
With less than 15 minutes remaining, Spartak cleared a City corner as far as 30 yards out, which Lindner picked up before hitting a powerful strike on goal, which was handled at the edge of the box. Jo Love stepped up to take the set piece but shot over the bar for her last action of the match, being replaced by Emma Woolley making her Champions League debut.
City made it 4-0 on the full-time whistle as Murray dribbled to the touchline before playing in Lindner who in turn set up Woolley. The City midfielder hit a low shot which saved by the feet of the Spartak keeper, with Lindner collecting the rebound and firing home, past the despairing defenders on the goal line.
Speaking after the game, City head coach Eddie Wolecki Black said: “We started the game a little bit shaky if I am honest, but the early goal certainly settled the whole team and after that we dominated possession of the ball and controlled the game.
“It is a great start to the group, three points, four goals, a clean sheet, but we know we have two tough games ahead, so still lots to do. We had three players make their Champions League debut today – Emma Woolley, Danica Dalziel and Christie Murray, which is fantastic for them and the club, so lots of positives. It is also great for our girls to play in front of such a large, passionate, home support as it adds to their experience of this high level of football.”
In the other Group 5 game, Faroe Islands champions Klaksvík enjoyed a 1-0 victory over Maltese champions Mosta courtesy of a second-half goal from 18-year-old forward Sofia Purkhús which leaves City top courtesy of a superior goal difference, but as they discovered in last year’s competition after winning 8-0 and 4-0 in their opening two games, it isn’t over until the end of the final game.
City were just two goals short of qualifying as one of two best runners-up last year, and the Scottish Women’s Premier Leaguee leaders are keen to qualify outright this time.
Their next game is against Mosta on Saturday August 13 at 15:00 CET, ahead of their final game with Klaksvík on August 16 at 17:00 CET, with three wins from three the only way to guarantee progression to the knock-out stages of the tournament.