Goals from Rafaelle and Stina Blackstenius helped an injury-hit Arsenal fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.
With both teams coming into the tie missing key personnel, there was a degree of pessimism yet with Wolfsburg hosting and not as hampered, the onus was on the German champions to take the advantage in the first leg.
Despite a scrappy opening 15 minutes, it was indeed the hosts who opened the scoring when Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir was given space to bring the ball down and play in Ewa Pajor who put the ball into the far corner on 19 minutes.
One became two just five minutes later when Arsenal switched off at the back and Jonsdottir nipped in to steal possession and score through Manuela Zinsberger’s ankles.
Second best all half, the visitors were given an unexpected route back into the tie at a corner just before the break when Steph Catley’s whipped delivery expertly picked Rafaelle to nod home.
Despite being the team in the ascendancy before the break, Wolfsburg struggled to create clear openings throughout the second half and were left exposed when Arsenal moved the ball down the line at pace.
From Lotte Wubben-Moy’s straight ball through Victoria Pelova worked the space to put the ball across the face of goal and leave Blackstenius with a tap-in to level the scores.
Spurred back into action after Arsenal’s second, Wolfsburg began to create more in and around the away box and saw a handful of good chances go begging as they vied for an advantage to take to the Emirates next month.
The two will meet again in North London on May 1.
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Arsenal – Football Match Report – April 23, 2023