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Arsenal battle for Wolfsburg draw in Women’s Champions League semi

Arsenal came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in the Women’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Wolfsburg on Sunday. 

Wolfsburg scored twice in five minutes midway through the first half but Arsenal’s Rafaelle Souza pulled one back just before the break. 

Wolfsburg dominated possession in the second half but lacked penetration without star forward Alexandra Popp as Stina Blackstenius scored a 69th-minute equaliser.

Arsenal travelled to Wolfsburg missing three of their top players. Leah Williamson was diagnosed on Friday with a torn ACL, joining Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema who also suffered the same season-ending injury.

Wolfsburg had injury concerns of their own, coming into the game missing striker Popp, who failed to recover from a leg injury sustained in Germany’s 2-1 loss to Brazil in early April.

Cheered on by 20,000 home fans in the spring sunshine, Wolfsburg started energetically and looked dangerous despite Popp’s absence. 

Ewa Pajor, top scorer after Popp in the league, gave Wolfsburg the lead after 19 minutes, hammering in a pass from Sveindis Jonsdottir from close range. 

Jonsdottir got on the scoresheet five minutes later, pouncing on a mistake when Arsenal tried to play the ball out from the back. 

She was in the right place to capitalise on a poor pass from Rafaelle, tapping in to give the home side a commanding lead. 

Arsenal struck back shortly before half-time, Frida Maanum’s shot forcing a reflex save from Wolfsburg ‘keeper Merle Frohms. 

From the ensuing corner, Rafaelle rose high to head the ball in, making up for her earlier error.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, Maanum found Blackstenius for a tap-in to level the scores. 

Wolfsburg pushed hard in search of a winner, Jonsdottir going close with four minutes remaining and Pajor inches away from a curling cross in injury time, but the visitors held on.

The winners face either Barcelona or Chelsea in the final. 

Barcelona won the first leg in London on Saturday 1-0 thanks to a fourth-minute goal from Caroline Graham Hansen. 

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