Women's Champions League - 1st Leg
Raheny United0Bristol City Women4

Raheny United 0-4 Bristol Academy Ladies

Natasha Harding
Natasha Harding scored twice for Bristol Academy

Bristol Academy took a big step towards the last 16 of the Champions League by beating Raheny United 4-0 in the first leg of their last-32 tie.

Two Natasha Harding goals were followed by a Nicola Watts penalty and a late strike from Spaniard Natalia Pablos.

It was a conclusive victory for the Super League team over the Irish champions at Dublin's Richmond Park.

"Fitness told after they came at us all fired up in the first 20 minutes," said Academy coach Dave Edmondson.

"Once the game opened up, they struggled to cope with us and we might have got more goals but for some very good saves."

Both sides missed early chances before Natalia had a 24th-minute shot - the game's first effort on target - superbly saved by Niamh Reid-Burke.

But the Raheny goalkeeper could do nothing to keep out Harding's opener five minutes later, the striker shooting home following a Watts cross.

Bristol boss Dave Edmondson on the second leg:
"We'll go into the match feeling confident but knowing that if they get an early goal it will be game on. If we can get that early goal the tie should be over as a contest."

Reid-Burke then denied the increasingly dangerous Watts either side of half-time while Academy stopper Mary Earps was never really extended.

As Bristol pressed for a second goal, Angharad James, Corinne Yorston and Natalia all sent shots wide.

But 12 minutes from time Harding doubled her tally, forcing in a rebound after a Watts shot was tipped onto the bar by Reid-Burke.

Midfielder Watts finally got a deserved goal from the penalty spot after Natalia was brought down a minute into stoppage time.

And Natalia completed the scoring following substitute Laura Del Rio's pass in the fourth minute of added time.

The second leg will played at Bristol City's Ashton Gate next Thursday.

Edmondson said: "We'll go into the match feeling confident but knowing that if they get an early goal it will be game on.

"If we can get that early goal the tie should be over as a contest, so we'll aim to be on the front foot from the start."

Bristol's victory followed Liverpool's 2-1 first-leg win at home to Swedish side Linkoping, and Glasgow City's 2-0 defeat by Medyk Konin in Poland.

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