Report | WFC CSKA Moscow 4 Swansea City Ladies 1
Swansea City Ladies produced an outstanding display to take WFC CSKA Moscow to extra-time in their Champions League first-round tie in Limassol, but ultimately lost out in an entertaining encounter.
The two-time defending Welsh top-flight winners had the Russian champions rattled at times and put in a great fight until the final whistle. But ultimately, CSKA were able to find what was needed to get past a battling Swansea side after 120 minutes.
The result means the Swans will face FC Dinamo Minsk on Saturday in the third-place play-off in group six, while CSKA will take on Apollon in the final.
And, while defeat will hurt, there was so much to be proud of as the Swans - a side made up entirely of amateur players - pushed their fully professional opponents all the way.
The Swans had been bullish in the build-up and it was clear to see why in an even opening to the fixture with both sides sizing each other up.
Midway through the first half CSKA claimed strongly for a penalty, but the referee waved away the shouts confidently.
Keeper Claire Skinner then made a crucial save to deny Francisca Ordega, who had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
The Russians began to create some chances, which allowed Kseniya Kovalenko to fire one from the edge of the box, however, her strike was directed way over the bar.
Towards the end of the first half, Tetyana Kozyrenko delivered an accurate cross into the box to pick out Gordon, but the American winger was unable to direct her header goalward.
In the early stages of the second half, CSKA found a way through the Swansea defence as Ordega was fed in behind, but the Nigerian international could only fire wide of the far post.
Skinner denied CSKA a goal to remember after she was equal to a powerful first-time strike on the edge of the box from Ordega.
As the game progressed, space began to open up with CSKA building pressure, but the Swans held firm at the back.
But it then appeared like CSKA nicked it at the death as Nevena Damjanovic diverted home Nadezhda Smirnova’s drilled pass across the face of goal.
However, Swansea showed great spirit to equalise almost instantly after Katy Hosford picked out Chloe Chivers, who then rounded the move off with a powerful strike from distance to take the game to extra time.
CSKA came back at Swansea at the start of extra time and retook the lead in the 92nd minute after Maria Kiskonen hammered the ball into the roof of the net from close-range.
Chivers nearly levelled the scores once again but her first-time strike was dragged marginally wide of the post.
CSKA increased their lead with 10 minutes of extra time remaining after Smirnova’s deflected shot found its way home for her second of the night.
Moments after it was 4-1 as Margarita Chernomyrdina got herself onto the scoresheet after she was there to turn in Onguene’s blocked shot on the rebound.
But the final result flattered the Russians and could not detract from a superb performance from the brave Swans.
Swansea City: Claire Skinner, Ellie Lake, Shaunna Jenkins, Alicia Powe (C), Ria Hughes, Tija Richardson, Emma Beynon, Rhianne Oakley (Chloe Chivers 62’), Kelly Adams (Laura Davies 83’), Katy Hosford (Chloe Tiley 111’), Stacey John-Davis (Sarah Adams 99’)
Subs not used: Gemma Border, Nieve Jenkins, Jemma Parfitt, Jess Williams, Brooke Llewellyn, Gwen Horgan, Caitlin Llewellyn, Mel Sartain
CSKA Moscow: Elvira Todua, Yuliya Pleshkova, Tijana Jankovic (Margarita Manuilova 117’), Nevena Damjanovic, Yulia Myasnikova, Margarita Chernomyrdina, Kseniya Kovalenko (Anastasiya Pozdeeva 73’), Nadezhda Smirnova (C), Sh’Nia Gordon (Marina Kiskonen 82’), Tetyana Kozyrenko, Francisca Ordega (Gabrielle Onguene 60’)
Subs not used: Anastasiya Ananyena, Elizaveta Scherbakova, Anastasia Karandashova, Tatyana Petrova, Lyubov Yaschenko, Veronika Ermakova, Mariya Alekseeva, Viktoria Shkoda
Referee: Tanja Racic