It was a night of heartache for Manchester City Women last night as the blues were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid. An own goal by Steph Houghton and a second by Angela Sosa was enough to see the Spaniards through to the quarter final despite a late goal from Pauline Bremer to reduce the deficit.
After drawing the first leg 1-1 a fortnight ago, the blues knew they had to score in Madrid to stand any chance of making the last eight and avoid bowing out to Atletico for the second successive season.
City started with attacking intent and in the first ten minutes Ellen White, making her full debut in a City shirt was put through, but put her shot agonisingly wide. It would have put City in the ascendency had that gone in but sadly it was not meant to be. Seven minutes before half time, the unlucky Houghton gave the home side the lead. A cross from the right was turned back towards goal by Ludmila da Silva, which went in via the City captain.
The blues had a mountain to climb in the second half, made worse when Atletico made it 2-0 with 23 minutes remaining. Charlyn Corral, whose goal in Manchester in the first leg levelled the tie, danced past the City defence, only to see her shot saved by young Ellie Roebuck. Her follow-up effort hit the post, only for Sosa to tap home the rebound.
Jill Scott and Megan Campbell both went close with headers, but it looked like it wouldn’t be City’s night until Bremer put the home fans on edge. Campbell’s incredibly long throw caused confusion on the Atletico box and Bremer fired home to give the blue girls hope, and one more goal for City would see them through.
Sadly, Bremer’s goal was too little, too late and City again exited the competition. City boss Nick Cushing said it was disappointing for the players and the staff. “It will hurt them,” the manager said after the game. “But it happens in football. I thought we dominated the game. We were the better team, we just lacked that little bit of extra edge to go and score. We’re in a difficult period at the minute. In football, sometimes you have these difficult moments and you just have to believe, keep working hard and come out of the other end. Today showed me that we’ve got enough quality and we’re still a good team.”
Wednesday’s match was the latest defeat in a disappointing run that has seen them lose to United in the Intercontinental Cup, while their 100% record was lost at Arsenal on Sunday, and the blues will need to pick themselves up for the visit of Birmingham City in the League Cup on Sunday.
Final Score: Atletico Madrid Women 2-1 Manchester City Women (Atletico win 3-2 on aggregate)
Atletico Madrid: Van Veenendaal, Robles, Aleixandri, Tounkara, Menayo, Duggan, Santos (Linari 90+2), Virginia, Sosa, Corral (Meseguer 75), Da Silva (Sampedro 81).
Subs not used: Gallardo, Strom, Ovdiychuk, Garcia
Man City: Roebuck, Bonner, Houghton, Campbell, Stokes (Bremer 83), Walsh, Scott, Weir, Hemp, Stanway (Lee 75), White (Beckie 63).
Subs not used: Benameur, Toland, Wullaert, Fidalgo