Women's Champions League: Glasgow City go out despite comeback v BIIK Kazygurt

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Glasgow City 4-1 BIIK Kazygurt (4-4 on agg)

Glasgow City fell agonisingly short of the Champions League last 16 after beating BIIK Kazygurt 4-1 at Petershill Park but going out on away goals.

The Kazakhstan side led 3-0 from the first leg and an early goal from the visitors left City needing five.

But they rallied superbly and an Abbi Grant hat-trick and one from Noelle Murray drew them level on aggregate.

They could have had a fifth but Scotland midfielder Leanne Ross hit the post with a penalty late on.

It was an incredible effort against a full-time outfit on a memorable but heartbreaking night for the Scottish champions, who were eliminated at the last-32 stage for the third year running.

Head coach Scott Booth had spoken beforehand about the importance of getting at the visitors early, and that is exactly what City did.

Katie McCabe and Grant were causing problems on both wings, and Jo Love's lob found Hayley Lauder on the left, her cross hitting the top of the crossbar as the hosts dominated in front of a noisy support.

But after 19 minutes, they fell 1-0 behind, and 4-0 overall. Chinwendu Ihezuo latched onto a long ball, cut inside and struck a left-foot shot low inside the near corner.

The hosts' balloon had been popped, their pre-match optimism ruined in one fell swoop. Suddenly every first touch was heavy, passes were misplaced, every 50-50 challenge won by the visitors.

Glasgow City celebrate Abbi Grant's hat-trick goal, which made it 4-4 on aggregate
Abbi Grant's hat-trick goal made it 4-4 on aggregate, but City could not complete their comeback

Grant and McCabe switched sides as Booth tried something different. Ross shot wide from distance and then Nicola Docherty tested Kazygurt goalkeeper Alexandra Grebenyuk as they began to shrug off their disappointment.

They needed a break and they got it two minutes before half-time. Murray back-heeled to Grant, whose low shot squirmed under Grebenyuk and in.

Love directed Lauder's cross wide as City kept pushing before the break.

They still needed four goals but reduced that back to the original target of three when Grant turned in Love's cross five minutes into the second half.

Grebenyuk was struggling to deal with the wet conditions and not for the first time she allowed the ball to slip from her grasp, but Lauder couldn't keep her shot down.

But when the Kazygurt keeper spilled Ross' free-kick, Murray made no mistake from close range.

Glasgow City head coach Scott Booth is sent to the stands by referee Marta Huerta De Aza
Glasgow City head coach Scott Booth was sent to the stands as tension rose

Something special was happening, and with 32 minutes still to go, City had more enough time left.

Grant and Leanne Crichton both shot wide in quick succession, but the next one to hit the target gave the goalkeeper no chance - Grant thumping in from the edge of the box.

Kazygurt were stunned. Lauder's low cross just evaded Love, then Crichton's free-kick almost sneaked in the near post.

Booth was ordered from the dugout as tensions ran high. His heart rate rose even higher as Docherty curled just over.

And then with eight minutes left, City were awarded a penalty when Kaelyn Korte tripped McCabe. The last 16 was in their grasp, but Ross' effort bounced off the left-hand post.

They still had time. Eilish McSorley headed on target but Grebenyuk caught it, then went down injured. That started a series of failed drop balls in the box to re-start the game - Kazygurt eventually clearing.

City kept pressing but they could not grab the fifth goal they needed to preserve their Champions League dream.

Glasgow City head coach Scott Booth: "They showed so much quality, desire, fitness, everything that you need. I felt for long spells in that game we weren't under any pressure. They scored early but I just felt like we needed to keep doing what we were doing.

"I've got a lot of respect for that side (Kazygurt), they don't lose a lot of goals normally, but without a doubt the best side has gone out.

"When we went in at half-time we just talked about the next goal. There was no point talking about getting four goals, and they did that and they kept going. Ultimately Kazygurt have gone through but I could not have asked for any more from my side.

"I was sent to the stand without a warning for asking why one of my players was offside. I understand sometimes emotions do rise in these games, but I didn't think I'd gone over the top. No-one had even warned me about the possibility of being sent to the stand. I didn't use foul language at all."

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