Gunners' Champions League progression hangs in balance after first-leg draw

Arsenal have been held to a 2-2 draw by Ajax within the first leg of their Women’s Champions League Round 2 qualifier at Meadow Park on Tuesday.

Jonas Eidevall’s aspect have been pinned again in a pulsating first half however got here racing out of the blocks after the break, although have been unable to place away their possibilities and face a troublesome process of beating the Dutch giants within the return leg.

Gunners goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger was compelled into an early save along with her legs to maintain out a thunderous strike from Victoria Pelova as Ajax started brightly.

The Austrian stopper then needed to react rapidly to maintain out Sherida Spitse’s effort from vary, however was helpless to forestall Ajax from taking an 18th-minute lead, with Romee Leuchter firing in on the close to submit.

Arsenal responded effectively to this early setback as Beth Mead’s free-kick was spilled by Lize Kop, although Stina Blackstenius by some means could not steer within the rebound.

But Blackstenius wasn’t to be denied moments later when she was first to react to a Rafaelle header that crashed in opposition to the crossbar, firing house to stage the scores.

Ajax maintained an aggressive press all through the primary half, frequently making Zinsberger work and robbing Arsenal defenders of possession.

Leuchter practically doubled her tally on the close to submit as soon as extra earlier than the break however Zinsberger this time obtained a glove to it.

Just after the break, the Gunners thought they’d gone in entrance after Steph Catley went racing by means of on aim, however she may solely discover the woodwork and Ajax have been let off the hook.

Arsenal’s sturdy begin to the second half continued when Rafaelle hit the pot from shut vary, and the hosts have been awarded a penalty after Beth Mead took a tumble within the field. Kim Little stepped up and despatched Kop the unsuitable strategy to put the Gunners forward.

England captain Leah Williamson was given an invite to shoot from all of 35 yards quickly after, and her speculative strike wasn’t too distant from beating Kop.

The Dutch goalkeeper produced one other nice smothering save to disclaim Catley from including a 3rd, and Arsenal have been pegged again on the different finish when Leuchter poked house throughout a scramble within the field.

Arsenal have been denied a late winner when Katie McCabe discovered the online, however the offside flag had been raised and the aim was chalked off.

The second leg will happen at De Toekomst on the outskirts of Amsterdam subsequent Wednesday, with Arsenal needing a win – both earlier than the tip of additional time or on penalties – to achieve the group stage.

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