Women's Champions League: Arsenal 3-1 Torres

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr on Champions League win

Arsenal moved a step closer to the Women's Champions League last four with victory over Italian side Torres in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Striker Kelly Smith and midfielders Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little put the Gunners 3-0 ahead at Boreham Wood.

But the Italian champions hit back through midfielder Sandy Maendly.

"I'm delighted with the win, in spells the team showed they are fantastically talented," said new manager Shelley Kerr after her first match in charge.

Kerr, who has taken over from Laura Harvey following the previous manager's move to American club Seattle Reign, added: "The gameplan was executed, but the down side was that at this level you need to be more consistent.

"We created chances but didn't always get the end product. And the girls were disappointed with the goal we conceded because it could have been avoided."

Arsenal wasted a host of chances in front of goal as they dominated the first half.

They should have taken the lead after just seven minutes when Little, clear in the penalty area, shot weakly at goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann.

Ten minutes later a 15-yard drive by left-winger Rachel Yankey forced Thalmann into a good diving save.

But the goalkeeper could do nothing to keep out Smith's clever flick into the roof of the net after left-back Steph Houghton headed on Little's 23rd-minute free-kick.

As Torres attempted to hit back, striker Patrizia Panico had a 25-yard effort saved under the bar by keeper Emma Byrne.

The Gunners were dealt a blow when Smith had to be substituted after being injured in a challenge with Panico.

They continued to hold the upper hand, but another great chance was wasted when striker Ellen White sent a 35th-minute shot too close to Thalmann.

However, the home side doubled their lead four minutes after the break, Nobbs controlling a Yankey cross to shoot home from 12 yards.

And 14 minutes later the third goal arrived when Little, pouncing on a loose ball in the penalty area, sent an angled drive into the top corner of the net.

A comfortable win seemed in the offing, but Arsenal sat back and were punished when Maendly struck home from 18 yards in the 71st minute.

The Gunners survived some uncomfortable moments in the closing stages and will have to produce a resolute performance next week to go through.

The second leg in Sardinia kicks off at 14:30 GMT next Wednesday.

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