Champions League: Arsenal win to reach quarter-finals

By Tony Leighton Women's football correspondent
Kim Little
Kim Little scored Arsenal's second goal of the match

Arsenal swept into the Women's Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano.

The win completed a 6-2 aggregate victory over the Spanish side.

Captain Jayne Ludlow shot the Gunners in front after 16 minutes, and Kim Little, Rachel Yankey and Jordan Nobbs scored early in the second half.

Natalia Pablos reduced the arrears, but substitute Danielle Carter bagged a fifth goal for the home side to complete a comfortable victory.

Manager Laura Harvey said: "We let Rayo off the hook in the first leg and missed chances in the first half here, but we never let up in the second half and got our rewards.

"We had a few scares getting to the quarter-finals last year, but that's not happened this time and that's because I think we're a better team now.

"We got to the semi-finals last season but lost to Lyon, now we're aiming to go one better and reach the final."

Arsenal were in control from the kick-off despite being below their best in the first half, during which they missed a number of good goalscoring opportunities.

Katie Chapman shot wide from a great position after 12 minutes, then seconds later Little had an effort saved by Alicia Gomez.

But they went ahead with a well-worked goal, Ciara Grant and Ellen White combining to set up Ludlow to score from 10 yards.

Nobbs and White had shots kept out before Nobbs incredibly headed wide of an empty net from eight yards seconds before half-time.

The second Arsenal goal was a virtual carbon copy of the first, Ludlow and White this time linking to give Little the chance to side-foot home in the 55th minute.

Seven minutes later Yankey sent in a 20-yard volley to stretch the lead, then the winger provided the cross for Nobbs to put the result beyond any doubt.

Natalia hit Rayo's consolation goal with a long range drive - only the second shot on target by the visitors - 60 seconds after Nobbs' goal.

But Carter, just five minutes after stepping off the subs' bench, restored Arsenal's four-goal advantage with a 15-yard shot 16 minutes from time.

The Gunners, into Europe's last eight for the 10th time in 10 attempts, will discover who their quarter-final opponents will be when the draw is made on 17 November.

"Our record in Europe is magnificent," added Harvey. "But we have to kick on from here and that's the aim."