Arsenal suffer extra-time loss as Wolfsburg reach Women’s Champions League final

Arsenal’s dream of reaching a first Women’s Champions League final since their 2007 triumph came to an end after Pauline Bremer’s extra-time goal saw Wolfsburg beat the Gunners 5-4 on aggregate.

The hosts opened the scoring through Stina Blackstenius in front of 60,063 at the Emirates – a record for a women’s club game in this country – but the strike was cancelled out by former Gunner Jill Roord before half-time.

Wolfsburg skipper Alexandra Popp pulled the visitors ahead after the restart before Jen Beattie’s equaliser forced extra time.

Katie McCabe came inches away when she pinged an effort off the crossbar, but it was the two-time Champions League winners who found the finishing touch to win 3-2 after extra time on the night and book their place in the June 3 Eindhoven final.

Arsenal, who drew 2-2 with the Frauen-Bundesliga side in the first leg, had never beaten their German opponents, who knocked the Gunners out at the quarter-final stage last year.

VAR was called into play inside the first three minutes for a potential Lotte Wubben-Moy handball, the Gunners dodging danger after an offside was eventually ruled.

Stina Blackstenius scored for Arsenal
Stina Blackstenius scored for Arsenal (Adam Davy/PA)

It was not long before the technology once again ruled in the hosts’ favour, this time as Blackstenius, making her 50th appearance for Arsenal, latched on to Lia Walti’s long ball, skipped over her toppling challenger and finished low into the bottom right of the net, the goal standing after another review.

The visitors remained largely unfazed and enjoyed the possession advantage in the opening period, Lynn Wilms forcing Manuela Zinsberger into a good save before Roord sent an effort wide.

Blackstenius had a chance to make it two when Wolfsburg’s attempt to clear instead ricocheted back into the path of the Arsenal forward, who pivoted but could only fire squarely into the awaiting arms of Merle Frohms.

But it was all square at half-time after Noelle Maritz was booked for her challenge on Wolfsburg skipper Popp to win the visitors a free-kick inside Arsenal’s half.

Popp rose to nod Svenja Huth’s delivery in the direction of former Gunner Roord, who ensured it was all to play for after the break when she brought the ball down with her chest at the edge of the area before bouncing it past Zinsberger with her left foot.

Blackstenius thought she had made it two moments after the restart but another call to VAR saw it chalked off for offside before the Gunners survived a sustained wave of attack from the visitors.

Wolfsburg took the lead in the  58th minute when Popp connected with Felicitas Rauch’s corner and swiftly nodded past the near post.

It took an excellent tackle from Wubben-Moy to break up Ewa Pajor’s dangerous run at the edge of the six-yard box and prevent her side from falling further behind, then providing the lofted delivery for Beattie to head home for the equaliser in the 75th minute.

Celebrations were quickly subdued as Laura Wienroither became the latest name added to Jonas Eidevall’s growing list of injuries when she was stretchered off the pitch after a twisting fall.

Zinsberger picked Sveindis Jonsdottir’s effort out of the air in stoppage time to ensure another 30 minutes would be played, substitute Lina Hurtig coming close for the hosts in the first half with a close-range effort to force Frohms into a quick stooping save before Wolfsburg substitute Bremer sent an effort just wide.

McCabe rattled the bar, but it was the visitors who got the winner after Wubben-Moy was dispossessed by Jule Brand, who squared to Bremer for the winner.