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Rachel Corsie: Women’s Champions League heats up; Mintlaw’s Kim Little is Arsenal’s catalyst

Arsenal's Steph Catley (L) in action against Koge's Maddie Pokorny (R).
Arsenal's Steph Catley (L) in action against Koge's Maddie Pokorny (R).

The Women’s Champions League was back during the week, as Arsenal and Chelsea continued their quest to reach the final eight.

Both teams were on the road as Arsenal made the trip to Copenhagen on Wednesday to face HB Koge.

The Gunners were certainly favourites and the game went as anticipated.

They dominated possession and by the end the stats showed they had 80% of the ball. The biggest surprise was that it took until the 27th minute before the deadlock was broken.

A magnificent free-kick from left-back Steph Catley finally got the better of goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese, who would keep the score down on the night.

The opening goal settled Arsenal and, despite going on to have 25 attempts, it took until the final period before they could add to their lead. Nikita Parris and Caitlin Foord scored within six minutes of each other to put the tie to bed and secure the win with 20 minutes remaining.

The one blemish was the goal Arsenal conceded, as Maddie Pokorny latched on to a sloppy back-pass to give Koge a consolation.

However, another two late goals in the closing minutes gave the Gunners a 5-1 victory which keeps them on track.

In their group, they currently trail behind Barcelona, who have three wins from three.

They will face the current holders again in December at the Emirates, after they have the chance to all-but-secure qualification later this month when Koge visit London.

A win would likely see them extend a gap between them and Hoffenheim that would almost be unsalvageable for the Germans, but they will otherwise face Hoffenheim in a showdown final group match before Christmas.

Elsewhere, Chelsea travelled to face Swiss Champions, Servette, and – with a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes – the game was all-but-over.

Chelsea’s forward Samantha Kerr (R) scores during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group A soccer match with Servette.

Chelsea’s ruthlessness was at its purest for arguably the first time this season, as Emma Hayes restored seven of her usual starters after she had heavily rotated her squad for the weekend’s trip to Villa.

In the end, they cruised to a 7-0 away win with the home side not even registering a single shot on target – the lesson was a cruel but impressive one.

The result perhaps worryingly highlighted the gulf between the Scottish Women’s Premier League and England’s WSL, considering Servette knocked SWPL1 champions Glasgow City out of the competition prior to the group stages beginning. The result shows the growth and investment still required across the game in Scotland.

The result put Chelsea on top of group A, with the group’s other two big names, Juventus and Wolfsburg, facing each other the next evening.

On an enthralling night at Juventus Stadium, Wolfsburg were held to a 2-2 draw after Felicitas Rauch was sent off in the 89th minute and Christiana Girelli bagged a 91st-minute equaliser.

The result means Chelsea will hold on to their top spot a little longer, with both group A qualification places still in the balance.

Little is the catalyst for big Arsenal start

Kim Little celebrates scoring her 50th WSL Arsenal goal. Photo by Steven Paston/PA Wire.

Kim Little reached a personal milestone last weekend as she scored twice to reach 50 WSL goals.

The landmark came in a 4-0 victory over London rivals West Ham, as she found the net either side of half-time to put Arsenal 2-0 up in the game.

Little currently leads the FAWSL goalscoring charts for this season, with six goals in six games, and her leadership is flourishing as she looks to be the catalyst for her Arsenal side’s strong start.

Aberdeen’s showing against Motherwell was perhaps a hangover from tough run

Aberdeen Women are without a win in seven games in all competitions and they were winless for the entirety of October.

However, the side have no need to feel pressure going into the next run of games.

The habit of winning is something which frequently acknowledged in the sports world, but less commonly mentioned, for obvious reasons, is the habit of losing.

Getting into this habit of late in games against professional sides Rangers, Glasgow City and Hibs, undoubtedly hampered the Dons in their 4-3 loss last weekend against Motherwell, with a tentative first half display feeling like a bit of hangover from those encounters.

Aberdeen lost to Motherwell.

Aberdeen now need to find momentum, and quickly, as they don’t want the feeling to change from a decent start to a survival SWPL1 survival fight.

The Dons are now eighth in SWPL1, two points off the bottom, with only Hearts and Hamilton below them.

They will hopefully relish the extra week of preparation before their next league game, as this weekend hosts the League Cup semi-final matches – a competition Aberdeen exited with one of their losses to Hibs.

Next up, the Reds will face a tricky visit to Celtic, before a pre-Christmas run-in against Partick Thistle and Hamilton. It should be reasonable for the side to look to gather six points from those games, although four would definitely give them a healthier-looking cushion in the standings.

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