Report by Graham Semple
Glasgow City are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after a sensational 3-0 (agg 3-2) extra-time victory over Polish side, Medyk Konin.
Second half goals from Jo Love and Susan Fairlie took this pulsating match into extra-time before Denise O’Sullivan added the winner to make sure that City’s European adventure continues.
In a nervy opening, both sides struggled to impose themselves but City slowly began to make headway. Suzanne Lappin provided City’s first attempt after six minutes when her effort sailed wide, and then Nicky Docherty followed up with a good run and shot that was comfortably gathered by Konin goalkeeper, Anna Szymanska.
Konin were understandably preoccupied with protecting their first leg advantage, but when the opportunity arose to attack they did so in significant numbers and were a potent threat throughout. They had their first real chance of the match after 11 minutes when a defensive mix-up almost led to the opening goal, but Docherty positioned herself well to clear.
Two minutes later there was another scare for City but Docherty again did well when danger threatened.
City responded well to the Konin threat and began to force their opponents back. The home side could and probably should have opened the scoring with 17 minutes on the clock. A pinpoint free-kick from Love found the unmarked Eilish McSorley at the back post but she sent her volley agonisingly wide from close range. The same set-play routine had been tried in Poland, but once again the final execution was missing.
The home side continued to push and press for the opening goal and after 31 minutes Suzanne Lappin had the ball in the net. A teasing free-kick from Love found the head of the number 10, but she was flagged offside by the assistant referee - much to the frustration of the City faithful.
With the scoreline goalless at half-time, City introduced Susan Fairlie for Abbi Grant at the start of the second period as the home side searched for a goal that would give them a platform to recover the deficit.
The Scottish champions started the second half strongly and Lappin soon forced Szymanska into a fine stop. The attempts continued to rain in on the Polish goal and eventually City got their reward after 59 minutes. A well-struck shot by Love from outside the box found the bottom corner and City were now in the ascendancy.
The Glasgow side almost netted a second goal to level the tie but Fairlie’s first time shot, after good work from Morgan Marlborough, was brilliantly saved by the Konin goalkeeper.
With thirteen minutes left City grabbed the desperately-needed second goal. The ball landed perfectly at the feet of Fairlie inside the Konin box and after the forward steadied herself, she expertly steered the ball into the net to level the tie.
Almost immediately a Brown corner had the Polish goalkeeper struggling but the lurking McSorley was unable to capitalise.
With the 90 minutes all but over, Konin almost grabbed a late goal that would surely have seen them advance to the next stage. The ball was fed into the path of the outstanding Anna Gawronska, and she appeared certain to score, but Lee Alexander made an excellent and brave save to take the match into extra-time.
Four minutes into the additional half-hour City scored to move in front for the first time in the tie. A corner from Fiona Brown eventually landed at the feet of O’Sullivan who turned and lashed the ball home from close range.
Before the interval, City had a glorious chance to increase their lead and give themselves some breathing space, but Brown missed the target with the goal at her mercy.
The second period of extra-time was all about survival for City but they remained resolute. The Polish side enjoyed the majority of possession but the Glasgow side held on to claim a fantastic win.
When a goal had to be scored, a shot had to be blocked or a save had to be made, City players stepped up to the mark tonight. This was an excellent team performance and despite Konin playing their part in a highly entertaining contest, over the two legs, the better team has progressed.
Glasgow City: Alexander, McSorley (McCulloch 97), Love, O’Sullivan, Lappin, Docherty, Black (c), Brown, Grant (Fairlie 46), Nelson, Marlborough
Subs Not Used: Farrell, Deiter, Hay, Whyte, Ross
Medyk Konin: Szymanska, Konat, Sikora, Hercigonja-Moulton, Slavcheva, Gawronska (c), Grzywinska (Szewczuk 67), Pajor, Zigic (Kamczyk 81), Pakulska, Balcerzak
Subs Not Used: Kaluzna, Matysik
Referee: Anastasia Pustovoitova (Russia)
Player of the Match: Denise O’Sullivan
Glasgow City will now face top Swiss side FC Zurich in the last 16 after they comfortably overcame Croatian's ZNK Osijek 7-2 on aggregate. City will play away from home first, with the return leg at Airdrie Excelsior Stadium on Wednesday 12th November, 7.30pm. Tickets will be available via www.glasgowcityfc.co.uk shortly.