Women's Champions League: Barcelona 0-1 Bristol Academy

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Dave Edmondson trains Bristol Academy players
Dave Edmondson is in his first year as Bristol Academy manager

Bristol Academy gained a surprise victory in the first leg of their Women's Champions League last-16 tie at Barcelona.

A Marta Corredera own goal midway through the first half gave Bristol a crucial advantage to take into Thursday's second leg at Ashton Gate.

It was a hard-fought win, Academy producing just two shots at goal while Barca clocked up 17 attempts.

Manager Dave Edmondson said: "Barca were dominant but we were disciplined."

He added: "We defended well and it was a fantastic result for us. I couldn't have asked for more from the girls in front of a good crowd which was obviously highly supportive of Barca.

"They have such a big name as a club, but it was 11 players in Bristol shirts against 11 in Barca shirts and we played the game not the name."

Barcelona, it should be said, are not the force in women's football that they are in the men's game.

But they have won six domestic trophies in the last four years and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season.

By contrast Academy, who qualified for Europe through a second place finish in last year's Super League, have no major honours to their name.

Bristol in the Champions League
Bristol Academy made their Champions League debut in the 2011-2012 season after reaching the FA Cup final
They failed to progress out of the last round of 32, losing 5-3 on aggregate to Russian side Energiya Voronezh
Bristol qualified for this year's competition after finishing second in last season's WSL table

And in Barcelona's Mini Estadi, situated opposite the Nou Camp, the English team certainly looked inferior to the home side in the early stages.

Strikers Sonia and Marta Corredera both forced goalkeeper Mary Earps into good saves.

But in Bristol's first attack of note Corredera, trying to clear a 26th-minute Natasha Harding cross, put the ball into her own net for the opening goal.

Sonia almost levelled the scores within 60 seconds as her ferocious shot cannoned off the crossbar.

Bristol began to grow in confidence after being handed the lead but rarely posed a goal threat.

Earps remained the busier of the two keepers, making saves from midfielder Alexia and Sonia either side of half-time.

Academy produced their first attempt on target on the hour, but midfielder Angharad James' shot was straight at keeper Laura Rafols.

The visitors then had to hang on in the closing stages, but they held firm to give themselves a great chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.

Edmondson said: "The girls are on a high after putting in a solid performance and coming away with a great result to take home.

"But they know they've been in a really tough game, and they're absolutely aware that it will be just as tough to finish the job."

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