A second-half hat-trick from Jennifer Beattie helped Arsenal Ladies cruise into the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League this afternoon, with the Gunners seeing off Barcelona 4-0 at Meadow Park.
Scotland’s international stars were on top form in front of goal for Arsenal in this second-leg round-of-32 tie, with Kim Little also finding the back of the net in the second half.
Arsenal, who went into today’s clash with a 3-0 aggregate lead over the Spanish champions, made up for a contained first-half performance with their second-half flurry to produce an easy 7-0 aggregate win to see them through.
Laura Harvey made four changes to the team that secured The FA WSL silverware on Sunday, with Kelly Smith, Steph Houghton, Yvonne Tracy and Rachel Yankey named in the starting 11.
Although the game started quietly, Arsenal were always the bigger threat but struggled to break down the Barcelona defence.
When the hosts did find their way through, keeper Laura Rafols pulled out some fine stops to deny them, including a diving save to prevent a powerful low strike from Jordan Nobbs.
Houghton again went close before the half time whistle, but her free-kick effort went narrowly high.
Any words said in the Arsenal changing room at half time seemed to have the desired effect, with the Gunners by far the brighter after the break. Half-time substitute Beattie made her presence known almost immediately, working with a Yankey free kick to head home the opener.
Just four minutes later and the host’s advantage was doubled, with Yankey playing her part once more to feed Little who found the back of the net with a volley.
Beattie used her head again in the 78th minute for a brace, before securing her hat-trick three minutes into stoppage time with a penalty given for a foul on Ellen White.
Arsenal now face German side FFC Turbine Potsdam in the last 16. Potsdam, who have two Euro titles under their belt, saw off Standard Liege 8-1 on aggregate to progress and the Gunners are well aware of the competition they face.
“We knew we had to come out with a good result again so we’re really happy get through to the next round and I’m more than happy to have got some goals” said Beattie.
“Potsdam’s form has been amazing the past few years so we’ve got the utmost respect for them going into the next leg.”
Houghton added: “It’ll be tough, but it’s Champions League and all the teams that are in it are full of quality players.
“It’s exciting to be playing these sorts of competitions, hopefully we can get another win.”
Jessica Whittington, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine