Valiant Glasgow finally fall

ValiantGlasgowFinallyFall
John Gorrod
Deputy Sports Editor

And so it has come to an end. One of the great success stories in Scottish women’s football.  Glasgow City were brave, never shirking from a challenge, never giving up in the face of adversity. The Champions League run is over but the club is on the brink of even better things.

Despite the 7-0 aggregate defeat to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter final, the sight of some of the best players in the world lining up at the Excelsior Stadium will live long in the memory.  It is also testament to the hard work of Eddie Wolecki Black and his squad.  And it will serve as a benchmark for what the most talented team in Scotland is capable of achieving in future European campaigns.

City succeeded in doing what no other Scottish side had previously done by reaching the last eight, defeating Nove Zamky, Glentoran, FC Zhilstroy, Medyk Konin and FC Zurich en route.  Bear in mind that most of the players are on part-time contracts.  PSG, in contrast, are all full-time professionals.

Goals from Anissa Lahmari and the superb Kheira Hamraoui secured a commanding first leg lead for the Parisians, who controlled the game from start to finish.  City set up to stay compact throughout, trying to nullify their opponent’s undoubted attacking threat.  Hamraoui executed the pivot role in midfield perfectly, dictating the tempo of the play with ease.

Lahmari gave her side the lead after 18 minutes with a neat finish inside the box and the home defence remained resolute to go into the break only a goal down.  In the 53rd minute, Hamraoui ended a well-rehearsed team move from a corner with an unstoppable shot into the top corner, the footage of which caused a storm on social media.  Goalkeeper Lee Alexander made several crucial saves throughout and came out the victor in a 1-on-1 with visiting striker Kosovare Asllani.

Irish midfielder Denise O’Sullivan said after the game that City had defended well but had to focus on retaining the ball more effectively in the return leg. She recognised that the superior fitness levels of the French made it difficult to compete.

The tie in the historic Parc Des Princes was one-way traffic. In front of over 11,000 spectators, PSG turned on the style to win 5-0.  An own goal from Suzanne Lappin broke the deadlock mid-way through the first half and Maire-Laure Delie netted either side of a 65th minute Sabrina Delannoy penalty. Kenza Dali then completed the scoring from the spot with three minutes remaining.

With only positives to take from the experience, City can now set their sights on a fourth consecutive domestic treble.  An unconvincing pre-season was followed by Champions League duties. But any fears of a European hangover were swiftly dismissed by a 5-0 victory over Hutchinson Vale in the first league game on 15 March.

And it is just as well, with both Hibs and Rangers throwing down the gauntlet by claiming maximum points from their first three games.

Last weekend, a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen, in which Hayley Lauder and Lauren McMurchie got on the scoresheet, made it two wins from two.  Inverness travel to the Excelsior next and City, the domestic juggernaut who have won every league title since 2008, will look to build momentum.

Few would bet against them completing another clean sweep.