Chelsea and Manchester City confirmed their place in the last-16 of the Champions League with wins against Benfica and Göteborg respectively.
A blistering strike from England forward Lauren Hemp in the first half, ensured City took control of the tie following a testing 2-1 victory in Sweden, before two in two minutes from Georgia Stanway put the score out of sight.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Hemp of her strike. “I don’t think I’ve shot from that distance for City before. It happened in slow motion for me. I was thinking ’go on, go on, go on’ and it went in.”
Perhaps buoyed by Scottish winger Caroline Weir’s injury time strike against Arsenal on Sunday, to bring Gareth Taylor’s team to within a point of Gunners who sit in third, City showed no signs of the heavy schedule having had too much of an impact on the pitch.
It took 38 minutes for City to break the resolve of the Swedish champions. Hemp, who has missed most of the season to date with a hamstring injury, ran the Göteborg defence ragged and cut in from the left before firing past goalkeeper Jennifer Falk from distance on her weaker right foot.
In the second half City pulled the tie even further out of Göteborg’s reach, with substitute Stanway twice tapping in the rebound after Falk saved two Ellen White attempts within two minutes.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes decided to take no risks despite a five-goal cushion from their trip to Portugal last week, fielding a strong XI for the return leg. At Kingsmeadow Benfica were a much more organised side but they were undone by a Beth England cross which floated in at the back post with Australian forward Sam Kerr lurking.
Kerr got one of her own though, in the second half Guro Reiten sent a defence-splitting pass through to Kerr who slipped the ball neatly in, her eighth goal in all competitions, and England added Chelsea’s third in added time with a back heel after she scuffed a first attempt at putting the ball across the line.
Last season’s surprise semi finalists, the Scottish champions Glasgow City, crashed out against Sparta Prague as a 1-0 home defeat was added to their 2-1 away loss. A poor pass from Nicole Robertson played in Lucie Martinkova seven minutes in and the Czech forward slotted cooly past goalkeeper Lee Alexander.
City were dealt a further blow when Robertson forced the ball from a defender and feeding Man City loanee Tyler Toland who fired into the top corner from 30 yards but the whistle had already been blown for a very very soft foul by Robertson.
The draw for the last-16 games will take place on 16 February, with the games played on the 3/4 and 10/11 March.