Despite Erika Vázquez's strike, Athletic Bilbao were beaten 3-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate by a late, great showing from Fortuna Hjørring in the UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32.
Slow start for both sides
With the first game ending 2-1 in favour of Athletic Bilbao, Fortuna Hjørring knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels if they wanted to advance to the Round of 16. On a rather cold and windy evening in Hjørring the spectators got to see two teams who started off rather cautiously and didn’t want to give anything away.
Because of this the game didn’t really open up until the 15th minute. Before this we saw a Fortuna Hjørring team that tried to put pressure on Athletic, especially with Karoline Smidt and Camilla Kur working hard up top, but the skill full Spanish players had no issue with playing the ball past the Fortuna players. Athletic on the other hand looked content in letting Fortuna have the ball, and try and play the ball in behind the Fortuna defence on a quick counter.
Fortuna up the pace but can't breakthrough
From the 15th minute and onwards Fortuna upped the tempo, and this instantly had an effect. In the 15th minute, Fortuna's Frederikke Thøgersen found Tuija Hyyrynen on the overlap, and the right-back put in a cross, which Smidt almost converted into a goal. However, her shot was blocked for a corner. The resulting corner fell to Kur, but her chance was saved.
Two minutes later it was Hyyrynen again, who managed to put in a good cross. Smidt nearly got to the cross first, but Ainhoa Tirapu in the Spanish goal was alert and punched the ball (and Smidt) away. Hyyrynun popped up again three minutes later, and took the ball to the backline, before cutting her pass back. At first the pass missed all the Fortuna players, but at the back of the area Florentina Olar popped up; the Romanian international was taken down in the area, but her penalty claims were waived away by the ref.
Athletic got their first big chance in the 28th minute, when Yulema Corres cheekily chipped the ball over the Fortuna defence but Nekane Diez’ shot hit the post. After this it was all Fortuna again, and in the 32nd minute they had the ball in the net. Kur, once again, proved to be a danger in the air, but her goal was called back because she was judged to have committed a foul. Fortuna continued to put pressure on Athletic to see if they could get that all important goal, but other than a few shots from distance from Tamires and Nora Heroum, they couldn’t find a way past Tirapu in goal as the first half ended goalless.
Second half and extra time provide plenty of drama
It didn’t take long in the second half for Fortuna to get their goal. After a foul was committed on Kur in the 49th minute, Nevena Damjanovic stepped up to take the freekick from just outside the area, and the Serbian defender made no mistake of it and put the dead-ball into the top corner. As it stood, the Danes would go through on away goals.
This got Atheltic to up their tempo, but it was still the Danish side that were in control, and Smidt especially had a few chances. Despite Fortuna looking the likeliest to get a second goal, a few moments of sheer brilliance from Atheltic saw them get back into the game. Erika Vázquez passed the ball to Corres, who once again chipped a pass over the Fortuna defence. Vázquez had moved into position and struck the bal first time over Maria Lindblad Christensen in Fortuna’s goal; advantage Athletic.
Fortuna pressured on knowing they had to get another goal to take the game into extra time, and in the 84th minute it came when Kur was finally rewarded for all her hard work. After a scramble in the box, the Dane had a near open goal to put the ball into and she had no trouble making it 2-1, 3-3 on aggregate; there were no more goals in regular time, and the two teams went into extra-time.
The following 30 minutes were characterised by two tired teams, and it was very back and forth. First half of extra-time saw Athletic’s Corres get the best chance, when her shot forced Christensen into a fine save. Second half slowed down even more, but near the end of it Fortuna upped the tempo, and in the final minute they were rewarded. Tamires found some space in Athletic's box, and she calmly shot past Tirapu in goal. Fortuna secured a dramatic, 3-1 win and triumphed 4-3 on aggregate.