Wolfsburg earned a spot in the Women’s Champions League final with a 3-2 victory against Arsenal in front of a record English domestic crowd thanks to Pauline Bremer’s goal in the final minutes of extra time.
Playing in front of 60,063 fans at the Emirates Stadium – a record crowd for a domestic women’s game in England – Arsenal was without several key players through injury and battled bravely against the two-time European champion.
After fighting back from 2-0 down to draw the first leg in Wolfsburg last week, the semifinal tie slipped out of Arsenal’s reach in heartbreaking fashion with Bremer’s winner in the dying moments.
“I feel very disappointed, of course – empty – but I also feel very proud of the players. I think they were magnificent out there today,” Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall told DAZN. “I can’t ask anything more of them.”
Monday’s game got off to the perfect start for the home side when Stina Blackstenius rounded goalkeeper Merle Frohms – the victim of a defensive mix-up from Wolfsburg – to open the scoring.
Former Arsenal player Jill Roord leveled the match shortly before halftime with a strike from the edge of the area, and the tie remained all square at the start of the second half when Blackstenius had the ball in the net but was ruled offside following a video assistant referee (VAR) review.
Wolfsburg captain Alex Popp, absent from the first leg due to injury, gave her team a 2-1 lead with a near-post header from a corner on 58 minutes before the German side almost extended its lead as Svenja Huth went close.
But Arsenal struck next through center back Jen Beattie’s header, sending the match to extra-time.
With penalties looming, substitute Jule Brand dispossessed the Arsenal defense and found Bremer, who had a simple finish into an open net.
“I personally was super overwhelmed, I think it was such a tough game,” Roord told UEFA TV.
“We were behind, we were in front. Actually, I thought it was going to penalties, but thank god we scored [to make it] 3-2. I’m super happy to be in the final.”
Wolfsburg will now face Barcelona in the Dutch city of Eindhoven on June 3 after the Spanish side defeated Chelsea in the other Champions League semifinal.
Arsenal – without captain Kim Little, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, among others, through injury – must now wait to win its second European title since winning the Women’s Champions League in 2006/07, the only English side to do so.
The sellout crowd at the Emirates, however, did see Arsenal make one piece of history on Monday, passing last year’s FA Cup for the biggest crowd in women’s domestic football.
The world record for a women’s game is 91,648 at the Camp Nou in Barcelona for last year’s Champions League semifinal between Barça and Wolfsburg.