Women's Champions League: ASD Torres 0-1 Arsenal

 

Arsenal are through to their third successive Women's Champions League semi-final after beating Italian side ASD Torres 4-1 on aggregate.

Niamh Fahey scored the only goal of the game in Sardinia from a Rachel Yankey corner four minutes in.

Silvia Fuselli, Giulia Domenichetti and Sandy Iannella all came close for the home side, who were chasing their first appearance in the semi-finals.

But Emma Byrne made a string of saves to see Shelley Kerr's side through.

"Emma was fantastic today and showed her experience and class," Arsenal boss Kerr told BBC Sport. "To get an early goal from a set play set us up and we are delighted to go through.

"But we have to give our opponents credit, Torres battled really well and put us under pressure."

Arsenal took a slender lead into the match at Vanni Sanna Stadium in Sardinia after winning the home leg 3-1.

That tie was former Scotland Under-19 coach Kerr's first competitive game in charge of the Gunners.

New Arsenal manager

In February, former Scotland international and Under-19 boss Shelley Kerr was appointed as the replacement for Laura Harvey, who joined US club Seattle Reign

And though the new Arsenal boss was disappointed to concede an away goal she was confident her new charges could kill off the tie in Sardinia.

They knew they would have to do so without the talismanic Kelly Smith, who was injured after opening the scoring in the home leg at Meadow Park.

But Kerr brought the lively Gemma Davison in for Smith and set the 25-year-old at the heart of Arsenal's attack alongside England regulars Ellen White and Yankey.

The England duo were soon in the thick of it, White heading down Yankey's third corner in quick succession for Fahey to poke home with the game barely four minutes old.

"We felt that Torres would come after us and we wanted to counteract that with an attacking line up," added Kerr.

Torres boss Manuela Tesse fielded an unchanged side from the one that visited Meadow Park last Wednesday and, urged on by the home crowd of 3,150, her players quickly responded to the goal.

Arsenal defenders Ciara Grant and Gilly Flaherty were both forced into saving tackles early on and 33-year-old keeper Byrne had to be on her mettle to deny striker Fuselli.

Midfielder Domenichetti had a goal disallowed for offside on the half hour but Arsenal rallied and skipper Steph Houghton was unlucky not to hit the target from a Kim Little corner.

Torres started brightly in the second half, however, with Domenichetti, Iannella and Patrizia Panico forcing Byrne into action again.

But Arsenal held firm and will face either Russian side Rossiyanka or German outfit Wolfsburg in the semi-final in April.

Those two sides meet on Thursday when Wolfsburg take a slender 2-1 lead to Moscow.