10 mins: City go close again! Kelly crosses brilliantly from the right again, and White flicks a near-post header over the bar.
7 mins: A double save from Schroffenegger! First Kelly’s shot is beaten away, and then she crosses to Weir, whose header is palmed round the post.
6 mins: City attack but don’t score! A long ball through to Weir bounces just beyond her, and the Fiorentina goalkeeper, the unfortunately-named-for-anyone-typing-in-a-hurry Schroffenegger, really should have caught rather than punching. That allows City to stay on the attack, at least until Stanway shoots high from 23 yards.
GOAL! Manchester City 2-0 Fiorentina (White, 4 mins)
This could get messy! This time the attack goes down the left, and Hemp crosses low to Ellen White, on the near corner of the six-yard box, who shoots high inside the near post!
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Fiorentina (Hemp, 2 mins)
Well that didn’t take long! One attack, one header, one goal for City, as Kelly is played down the right, goes past Adami way too easily, and sends in an excellent cross that Lauren Hemp, running infield from the left, heads back across goal and into the corner!
Still no sign of the teams, with only 90 seconds to go before they are supposed to kick off.
Gareth Taylor, the Manchester City head coach, has a pre-match chat:
We expect it to be difficult. We expect them to manage the game properly and make it difficult for us. As long as we remain calm, we always feel confident we can score goals, we’ve been scoring freely recently, and hopefully we can go to Italy with a couple of goals. We know it’s incredibly tough to break the cycle Lyon have put together. There’s a lot of very good teams in there. We’re one of them. Cup competitions are difficult because it’s hard to get second chances. We have to take it game by game and that starts tonight.
The players have been warming up. Of the many mysteries about football, why more teams don’t wear Fiorentina-style purple might not be the very greatest, but it remains extremely puzzling.
The teams are in, and here are those teams:
Manchester City: Roebuck, Bronze, Houghton, Dahlkemper, Greenwood, Coombs, Weir, Stanway, Kelly, Hemp, White.
Fiorentina: Schroffenegger, Cordia, Quinn, Adami, Thogersen, Vigilucci, Neto, Middag, Zanoli, Sabatino, Baldi.
Sadly, Manchester City women are not a patch on their all-conquering men’s team: if you exclude defeats after extra time and/or with the aid of penalties, they were beaten as recently as last October, just 17 games ago. Failures! Since the start of December their results at 90 minutes have been: 3-0, 2-1, 2-1, 3-0, 7-0, 2-2 (lost 4-2 aet), 7-1, 4-0, 2-1, 3-0 and 4-0, an 11-game aggregate score of 39-6. Losers! They are second in the WSL table, trailing Chelsea – the last team to beat them in 90 minutes – by two points, with a home game against the leaders to come next month.
Fiorentina meanwhile are fifth in the women’s Serie A table, and lost at local rivals and near-namesakes Florentia at the weekend, but in recent years only Juventus have outperformed them domestically. In Europe, though, they keep being tonked by English sides: 6-0 on aggregate by Arsenal in last season’s Champions League, and 7-0 by Chelsea the year before. Their coach, Antonio Cincotta, says it’s “a historic moment” for his team to reach the Champions League round of 16 for the third year in succession, but admits his team face a “massive struggle” to avoid another savaging at English hands. Do they have any hope at all? That’s what we’re about to find out!
Here’s Louise Quinn, Fiorentina’s Irish defender, on tonight’s challenge: