Manchester City took a step towards the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League with hard-fought 3-0 victory over Italian side Fiorentina in the first leg of their round of 16 tie at The Academy Stadium this evening.
City qualified for the round of 16 by recording a 5-1 aggregate victory over Goteborg FC in the round of 32 whilst today’s opponents Fiorentina overcame Czech side Slavia Prague thanks to a narrow 3-2 aggregate victory.
The hosts came flying out of the traps and Lauren Hemp put The Cityzens ahead inside the opening three minutes with a powerful header which flew past Katja Schroffenegger in the Fiorentina goal.
A good start then turned into a great one as Hemp fizzed a low cross into the area and Ellen White fired in at the near post to give City a two-goal lead before five minutes had even elapsed. City had more chances to further widen the gap in the first half but neither Hemp nor Chloe Kelly could find the back of the net.
Viola proved to be a much more difficult unit to break down in the second period as City couldn’t effectively pass through the back five. Although the hosts had the vast majority of possession, Fiorentina weathered the storm thanks to a very well organised block which left Gareth Taylor’s side frustrated.
It was beginning to seem like a third goal was never going to come but the opportunity presented itself just before full-time. City broke well through Georgia Stanway who laid the ball off for Kelly who in turn, superbly picked out substitute Sam Mewis with a dinked cross to the back post. The United States international kept her composure and headed the ball into the back of the net.
The match finished 3-0 in City’s favour, leaving them in a very strong position going into the return leg in Florence next week. Despite watching his side establish a sizeable first leg advantage, head coach Taylor will still see areas for improvement as his team struggled to penetrate the Fiorentina defence for large spells. He will be keen to see City finish the job off in style at the Studio Artemio Franchi next week.