Arsenal 2-2 Ajax: Women’s Champions League qualifier – as it happened | Women’s Champions League

Key events

Match report

I’ll leave you with Suzanne Wrack’s report from Meadow Park. Thanks for joining me, and bye for now.

And here’s a look at the late Ajax equaliser, with bonus excitable Dutch commentary.

It finished Rangers 2-3 Benfica at Ibrox – a narrow defeat for Malky Thomson’s side, but they still have hope of turning things around in the return leg next week. Here’s the moment the hosts went ahead through Kayla McCoy.

I should add that, in line with the men’s tournament, there is no away-goals rule in the Women’s Champions League any more. Which is good news for Arsenal.

Full time: Arsenal 2-2 Ajax

It ends all square after a terrific, topsy-turvy encounter. Arsenal will be frustrated that they let the lead slip away when in control, but they have a second leg next week to get the job done.

95 mins: Kardinaal wins the ball from Foord and goes over, beset by cramp. The young centre-back has edged Romée Leuchter for my entirely inconsequential Woman of the Match award.

94 mins: From the corner, Rafaelle skews a tricky shot wide of the far post, to collective groans behind the goal.

92 mins: Another terrific last-ditch tackle – this time it’s Lisa Doorn who denies Kim Little a shot on goal. Eshly Bakker is on for Ajax, replacing Grant – it was her late overhead winner that did for Frankfurt in the last round.

90 mins: Six minutes of stoppage time to come, as Beth Mead’s free-kick squirms through a crowd of players.

89 mins: Kardinaal clears a cross with her head, then gets over to the near post to deny Foord with a crunching tackle. Superb defensive work once again.

87 mins: McCabe turns a free kick into the roof of the net – but the flag is up! She did look marginally offside, but it was close. There’s no VAR in the play-offs, but if Arsenal get to the group stages they will be able to utilise it at the Emirates.

86 mins: Arsenal are still a little dazed, and Reuchter finds another good attacking position – but her speculative shot from 40-odd yards out is well wide.

Ajax have been camped in their own half, but they get forward in numbers here, and Tiny Hoekstra turns her marker too easily. Her cross is half-cleared by Williamson and Pelova’s shot ricochets into the path of Leuchter, who flicks the ball beyond Zinsberger!

GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Ajax (Leuchter 82′)

Very much against the run of play, Ajax are level!

Ajax players celebrate after Romee Leuchter scores.
Ajax players celebrate after Romee Leuchter scores. Photograph: James Whitehead/SPP/REX/Shutterstock

Benfica have retaken the lead at Ibrox, with Paula Encinas on target. Rangers 2-3 Benfica, with 10 minutes or so to play.

80 mins: McCabe targets Foord again and the forward gets clattered by Kop. The flag was up, but that won’t be much comfort to Foord, left crumpled in a heap.

Caitlin Foord is taken out by Goalkeeper Lize Kop.
Caitlin Foord is taken out by Goalkeeper Lize Kop. Photograph: Liam Asman/SPP/REX/Shutterstock

78 mins: Isa Kardinaal gets across to cut out a McCabe through ball, aimed at Foord. The centre-back is only 17, but has looked very composed tonight – the only Ajax defender not to be booked.

76 mins: It looks like Foord will move up front, with McCabe dropping in on the left side of the three behind her.

75 mins: From the free kick, Steph Catley squeezes beyond the back line but sees her shot smothered by Kop.

74 mins: Caitlin Foord slaloms forward, and has her heels clipped by Noordam. Blackstenius heads off, replaced by Katie McCabe …

72 mins: Arsenal have lost some of that intensity, perhaps holding something back for a late assault on the tiring Ajax defence.

69 mins: Lisa Doorn joins two of her defensive cohorts in the book for a foul on Blackstenius.

67 mins: Kim Little requires treatment after another heavy challenge, but is OK to continue.

Kim Little receives treatment.
Kim Little receives treatment. Photograph: James Whitehead/SPP/REX/Shutterstock

65 mins: Foord wins a free kick 20 yards out after battling for the ball. Beth Mead takes it, but scoops her effort over the bar. Van der Most is booked for the challenge on Foord.

63 mins: Miedema plays the ball back to Williamson, advancing from centre-back. With nobody closing her down, the England captain moves forwards and fires a 30-yarder just wide!

61 mins: Arsenal will be keen to take more than a one-goal cushion into the second leg – particularly with Ajax not playing in their league this week. A first change for the visitors here, Isabelle Hoekstra replacing Weerden on the wing.

Two quickfire goals at Ibrox, where Ana Vitoria scored her second goal to put Benfica ahead – only for McCoy to level with her second of the game moments later. It’s Rangers 2-2 Benfica.

60 mins: Ajax get forward but with Leuchter down and appealing in vain for a foul, Grant has little option but to try an ambitious effort that flies wide.

58 mins: Caitlin Foord is on, replacing Hurtig. Mead needed a bit of treatment for a possible head injury after that foul, but she is continuing for now.

GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Ajax (Little pen 57′)

The captain waits for Kop to move, then strokes the ball into the other corner. Cool as you like!

Kim Little scores Arsenal’s second goal.
Kim Little scores Arsenal’s second goal. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Penalty to Arsenal! The pressure tells, Soraya Verhoeve penalised for an unseemly shove on Beth Mead. She is booked, and Kim Little will take the spot kick …

54 mins: It feels like almost every Arsenal player has come close in this second half already. Blackstenius looks certain to score as she bursts beyond the defence – but Kop pushes the ball away as the striker tries to go round her.

53 mins: Hurtig is well marshalled by Chasity Grant, back on her own byline. From the corner, Rafaelle’s shot rattles the post!

51 mins: Maritz shoots from the corner of the area, Kop claws it away. Arsenal racking up the shots on goal here …

50 mins: Arsenal have started the second half with greater intensity, looking to unsettle a youthful Ajax back line that has held up very well so far. This time, Hurtig’s cutback is cleared behind, and Rafaelle heads wide from the corner.

49 mins: Miedema cuts in from the left side, dances around a defender and curls her shot just wide of the far corner. Moments later, Blackstenius tests Kop with a low effort from distance.

Blackstenius is challenged by Kardinaal.
Blackstenius is challenged by Kardinaal. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

47 mins: No changes for either team at half-time, but Arsenal make a quick start. Steph Catley muscles into the area, and her shot crashes off the outside of the post!

“Arsenal need a bit of oomph in midfield – Maanum on for Walti?” ponders Charles Antaki. “This would never have happened when Jill Roord was playing … the Old Days already.”

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