Manchester City are out of this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League with Gareth Taylor’s side having fallen to a 4-2 aggregate defeat to Barcelona.
City were trailing 3-0 from the first leg of their quarter-final tie and while they won the second leg 2-1 at The Academy Stadium this afternoon, it wasn’t enough to keep their European dreams alive.
The hosts started the match positively with a succession of corner kicks in the opening five minutes to put pressure on the Barcelona defence. City head coach Taylor had targeted set pieces as an area that his players could get some joy from in the first leg and they were unfortunate not to have a goal to show for their efforts in the early stages of the return leg in Manchester.
If City were to penetrate the Catalan side’s defence, it appeared the most likely source would be from a dead ball delivery and that proved to be the case. A corner from the right was whipped in by Alex Greenwood and found the head of Sam Mewis. The American nodded the ball downwards as it pinballed amongst the crowd of bodies before being poked in by Janine Beckie.
Although they were able to find the goal that evaded them in the first leg, City certainly rode their luck at the other end of the pitch. On two separate occasions, Ellie Roebuck pulled off great saves only for the ball to fall to Asisat Oshoala. With the keeper stranded, the Nigerian looked favourite to find the net only to be denied in both instances by Roebuck.
Any hope of City finding a way back into the tie quickly diminished when Barca found their away goal in the second half. A clearance by Greenwood into City’s defensive third was blocked and the deflection fell favourably for Barcelona. A square ball to Oshoala left her with little to do as she tapped the ball into the back of the net.
The Cityzens were given a glimmer of hope shortly after when Ellen White was brought down in the area. Sam Mewis stepped up and drilled the ball into the bottom corner to give her side 2-1 second leg lead.
That was how the scoreline remained, meaning that City lost the tie 4-2 on aggregate. It is disappointment for Taylor who had his sights set on winning the competition but he can take solace in his team being the better side on the night and they are first side to beat Barcelona in 90 minutes this season. In addition, City are the first side to score two against the Catalan club since Atletico Madrid achieved the feat in February 2020.
It was fine margins and a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that were the differences between the sides in the end but that will be of little consolation for Taylor and his players as their UEFA Women’s Champions League disappointment continues for another year.