UWCL Match Report: Arsenal 1-2 Paris St. Germain

A dream goal from Signe Bruun on her return from eighteen months out injured ensured that Paris St. Germain ended Arsenal’s Champions League hopes last night with a deserved victory over the Gunners in San Sebastian.

Bruun’s strike with thirteen minutes remaining was the eventual difference between two sides, although it was becoming clear that the two competitive games that PSG have played in recent weeks was enabling French side to win the physical fitness battle after the shut-down of the sport due to coronavirus.

The early stages saw Arsenal creating good opportunities with Vivianne Miedema pressing Christine Endler on a pass back and ensuring that the PSG keeper rushed her clearance out for a Gunners throw. The Dutch star also combined well with Kim Little before Nadia Nadim tidied away the danger. Arsenal also earned a free kick on the edge of the box in this period, but Beth Mead’s attempted ball in was disappointing.

As PSG settled they began to spray some beautiful passes around the field and looked increasingly comfortable on the ball. On the twelfth minute mark, Kadidiatou Diani was awarded a free kick after being fouled by Danielle van der Donk. Sara Dabritz’s ball in from the right was cleared, but not without penalty claims from the Parisians which were waved away by referee Esther Staubli.

Three minutes later, PSG were in front. Marie-Antoinette Katoto got away from Leah Williamson at a corner to side volley in a stunning strike.

Arsenal responded well to this blow and shortly afterwards they fashioned an opportunity when Noelle Maritz was played in by Miedema and then found Kim Little whose side footed effort went narrowly wide.

Little was involved again just after the half hour mark when she found Lisa Evans, but the French side tidied away the danger.

The Gunners’ efforts though were rewarded six minutes before the break when Maritz combined with Little who threaded a ball through to Beth Mead who fired a shot across the diving Christiane Ender into the far corner. PSG claimed the England forward was offside – something which replays seemed to agree with, but the goal stood.

Arsenal fashioned a further opportunity three minutes later when the increasingly influential Little went on a storming run down the left and cut inside to find Miedema whose effort went wide and the score remained 1-1 at the break.

Paris St. Germain came out firing in the second half, and within four minutes of the re-start, their former Chelsea star Ramona Bachmann ran down the right and came in to provide a pass to Kadidiatou Diani, whose effort was deflected out for a corner.

The French side were now well in control and forcing Arsenal onto the back foot throughout, ensuring that the North Londoners struggled to maintain any possession that they gained.

Just after the hour mark Sara Dabritz combined with Diani but Zinsberger saved well. Diani was linking up magnificently with Marie-Antoinette Katoto with the pair at the heart of the majority of Arsenal’s woes in the second half. The pair combined on 74 minutes with Zinsbergerneeding to stand up strong to block Diani’s effort with her feet.

PSG introduced Signe Bruun for the hardworking Ramona Bachmann with twenty five minutes left and the Danish striker was in the thick of the action immediately as she shot over the ball after being played in by Diani.

Just two minutes later though, Bruun killed off Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League progress. Katie McCabe lost out to Diani who played in Katoto once more. Her low cross found Bruunwho swept the ball home.

Five minutes later the Parisians fashioned another opportunity when the dangerous due of Diani and Katoto combined to force Zinsbergerinto a save with Dabritz’s follow-up going narrowly wide.

To their credit, Arsenal rallied and finished strongly – aided by their bench. Last season at times it could be ventured that Joe Montemurro’s side fell down against the top sides due to a lack of strength in depth. Not so now – any team that can have players like Jordan Nobbs, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Jill Roord as substitutes is going to be up there fighting tooth and nail with the best on all fronts.

The final stages saw Arsenal on the front foot in an attempt for an equaliser to force the tie to extra time. Caitlin Foord played in Miedema but the opportunity was cleared for a corner. The Dutch star was involved in Arsenal’s final opportunity when she combined with Katie McCabe to force a corner which was dealt with by the French side.

Paris St. Germain ran out deserved winners and now face domestic foes Olympique Lyonnais for a place in the Champions League Final. As for Arsenal, two weeks out from the start of the new FAWSL season, they will be in a good place to fight back for silverware domestically in a bid to return to this competition in twelve months time.