Barca breeze past Arsenal in WCL opener

European champions Barcelona produced a dominant display by beating Arsenal 4-1 in their Women’s Champions League opener on Tuesday night.

Barcelona were utterly in control in the first half, taking the lead through Mariona Caldentey’s rebounded finish (32), before Alexia Putellas turned home Asisat Oshoala’s cut-back (43).

Against her old club, Oshoala slipped Barca 3-0 ahead early in the second half (47) before Arsenal found some rhythm and grabbed a goal back through Frida Leonhardsen Maanum, bundling home at the back post (74).

Sub Lieke Martens made it 4-1 with a deft finish late on (84), while Putellas saw a stoppage-time penalty saved by Manuela Zinsberger after Jordan Nobbs’ foul on her in the area.

Barca had a total of 35 shots on Arsenal’s goal in the game, with Arsenal’s Zinsberger making 10 saves on a humbling night for the Gunners, albeit with a much-improved second-half display.

How Barca blew Gunners away

Alexia Putellas celebrates with Asisat Oshoala after scoring Barcelona's second goal against Arsenal
Image:
Alexia Putellas celebrates with Asisat Oshoala after scoring Barcelona’s second goal against Arsenal

Barca proved why they were European champions and favourites to retain their crown this year in a dominant first-half display, registering 19 shots on goal to Arsenal’s none.

They were camped in Arsenal’s defensive third for almost the entire half, going close through Caldentey and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, who both forced good saves from Zinsberger.

But the hosts had to wait until just after the half-hour mark to take the lead through Caldentey, who pounced after Zinsberger had stopped Oshoala’s effort from the edge of the box, composing herself before slotting home.

And it was 2-0 before the break as Oshoala got to the byline with ease, before cutting back for Putellas to turn into the net.

Barca picked up where they left off in the second half as Caldentey played Oshoala through on goal, before the Nigerian slotted under Zinsberger for 3-0.

Arsenal improved after bringing on Tobin Heath, Nikita Parris and Caitlin Foord after the third goal, and got one themselves with a rare attack as Maanum converted at the far post from Heath’s free-kick delivery, just moments after Parris had seen an effort cleared off the line.

But it proved to be a fleeting moment as Barcelona got their fourth, Martens brilliantly dinking over Zinsberger from Patricia Guijarro’s through ball.

It should have been five in stoppage time as Nobbs tripped captain Putellas in the box, but her own spot-kick was saved well by Zinsberger to her left to keep a respectable limitation on the damage.

Analysis: Spirited from Arsenal

Laura Bassett on Sky Sports News:

“A lot of positives can be taken from the second half. What really knocked Arsenal out their stride was conceding just before half-time and straight after in the second half. That really caused them to stumble.

“But surely on the review and analysis they will see passages of play which will make them think they can get at this Barcelona team in the return fixture.

“They certainly put on a spirited performance They’ll know they can get at them.”

What’s next?

Arsenal now host Everton Women at 3pm on Sunday in the WSL, live on Sky Sports Premier League, before their second Champions League clash at home to Hoffenheim on October 14 at 8pm in Borehamwood.

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