The Scottish champions’ incredible run in the UEFA Women’s Champions League came to a shattering end in San Sebastian last night against a star-studded Wolfsburg side.
This tie was always going to be tough for Scott Booth’s team, but the extra difficulties added since the coronavirus outbreak proved to make the tie virtually impossible for City.
The Petershill Park based outfit went into the game not having been able to play a match since February whereas their German counterparts, Champions League winners in 2013 and 2014, were able to complete their domestic campaign in June. This, plus an inherent difficulty in defending balls into their box conspired to make the game far more one sided than it may otherwise have been.
City started well with Krystyna Freda threatening only to be ruled offside. However, either side of the ten minute mark, Wolfsburg began to test Lee Alexander in the Glasgow goal. First, Fridolina Rolfo ran down the left before cutting in and hitting a cross shot that needed to be held. Shortly afterwards, Rolfo combined with Joelle Wedemeyer to play a ball into Ingrid Syrstad Engen, whose weak shot was saved.
The opening goal came after fifteen minutes when Danish star Pernille Harder drove through from midfield and played a one-two with Alexandra Popp. Harder was not picked up after offloading the ball and had the freedom to run onto the return pass to hit her shot past Lee Alexander.
Just four minutes later, the Germans doubled their lead. From a corner. Engen got away from Leanne Crichton, her would-be marker and her weak header squirmed into the net. Unfortunately for City, this goal marked the beginning of a worrying trend to concede from balls across their box.
After the quick fire concession of two goals, Glasgow City did well to stem the tide and, just past the half hour mark offered an attack of their own when Sam Kerr powered up the flank and played a ball in, but there was no-one there.
With five minutes left before the break, City had another chance. Lauren Wade looked up and saw Wolfsburg keeper Friederike Abt slightly off her line and put up a high lob which fell wide.
All City’s hard work in aiming to go in just two goals in arrears despite having only twenty percent of the possession then went up in flames as Wolfsburg doubled their lead in the closing two minutes of the first half.
First, a teasing ball in from the right was met by Ingrid Syrstad Engen who was allowed to come between two defenders to notch her second of the game. Then Laura Goessling’s free-kick on the left was played back to Pernille Harder who blasted an effort from outside the box. Lee Alexander got a hand to the shot, but only to help it fly even faster into the goal. It was 4-0 to Wolfsburg at half-time.
Wolfsburg brought on new signing from Manchester City, Pauline Bremmer after the break, but it was Glasgow City who fashioned an early opportunity. Lauren Wade played a ball through to Krystyna Freda, with the American’s effort just wide.
Six minutes later though, Wolfsburg showed once more how clinical they are. Once more, City struggled with a cross into the box and Pernille Harder was allowed to run between two defenders to head home.
Glasgow City were though rewarded for sticking in there on sixty three minutes, with the goal of the game. A long kick from Lee Alexander was flicked down to Lauren Wade who hit a glorious effort into the far top corner of the net.
The joy of the strike was cut short just three minutes later when Harder broke through. Zaneta Wyne’s tackle only succeeded in pushing the ball straight to substitute Felicita Rauch who grabbed Wolfsburg’s sixth of the evening.
It took just another five minutes for the Germans to add another goal, and it was the Danish star Pernille Harder who once more reaped the rewards in a painfully familiar style as far as City were concerned. Svenja Huth’s free-kick on the right was played in and Harder was allowed to run between two defenders again to head home.
The final ten minutes only served to add further heartbreak for the Scottish champions as, first Huth’s cross ballooned up and was headed past her own keeper by Leanne Ross and then, at the death, Lena Obersdorf’s attempted cross was deflected into the net off of Jenna Clark.
It was a cruel end to Glasgow City’s fairytale run – but this club’s history and ethos can make you sure of one thing – they’ll come back stronger from this.