UEFA Women’s Champions League: Manchester City 2-0 Linkoping – Citizens edge closer to semis

Manchester City's dominant display against Swedish side Linkoping paid due dividends as they secured a convincing 2-0 victory to move closer towards a UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final spot.

England's newly-appointed coach Phil Neville watched on and undoubtedly witnessed a ruthless City side, which augurs well for the future of English teams in this competition. 

This would be the second time that the Citizens would have clinched a last-four berth after meeting the heavy favourites of this competition Olympique Lyon last season. 

It was an intriguing encounter with some familiar faces in the Swedish side as they boast the likes of Natasha Dowie, an England international and Kosovare Asllani, who until last season was part of the Manchester City squad. 

Meanwhile, City had more reasons to celebrate as Dutch international Tessel Middag returned to action after being sidelined due to a long-term injury. 

Intentions made clear

The home side went all guns blazing, making their intentions clear as they pressed from the first minute in an attempt to put themselves in the driving seat.

Melissa Lawley and Demi Stokes were posing a threat with their set-pieces and inviting crosses into the box. However, none of their team-mates could capitalise on their plays with the stalemate prevailing. 

City's best characteristic in this game was their possession, forcing their opponents to chase shadows in an attempt to exploit the half-spaces and rush towards goal.

Linkonpings were trying to catch the home side on the break, but even when they moved near goal, they did not threaten Ellie Roebuck's goal, lacking the final touch to produce a decisive outcome. 

Nonetheless, City did not remove their feet off the pedal and were keen to draw first blood and they almost did so when Georgia Stanway attempted a long-range effort but her effort sailed over the bar. 

At this point, City's biggest chance arrived through Keira Walsh whose effort was denied by the woodwork. 

City made their pressure count past the half-hour mark when Lina Lantz handed the ball in the penalty box and the referee ordered a penalty for the Citizens. Nikita Parris took charge of the kick to convert into goal as Cushing's side forged ahead. 

On the brink of half-time, the home side almost doubled their lead if only Parris could beat the goalkeeper. City may have irked at not having added more goals in the first 45 minutes. 

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City in control 

After the change of ends, City hemmed Linkonpings into their own half in an attempt to wrap up the victory. Parris was once again City's main threat as her velocity enabled her to move into the deepest areas of the field, exposing the defensive frailties of their opponents. 

Parris was in a continuous battle with Linkonping's goalkeeper who was parrying every attempt of the City player.

Nonetheless, City found a way through to earn a two-goal cushion through Jane Ross. The striker moved behind her marker and connected with a right-hand side cross to lob the ball over the goalkeeper. 

At the end of the game, coach Nick Cushing was satisfied with what he had seen and he is hopeful that his team can emulate the same performance on away soil.

“We would have loved to have won the game by more but it’s European football so we try not to get too greedy,” Cushing stated.

“This is a good foundation to go over there with. I feel like we can score – go there and win the game.”

Manchester City will aim to seal qualification next Wednesday when they lock horns with Linkopings in Sweden (kick-off: 6pm CET).