Arsenal experienced a surprising elimination during the Women’s Champions League qualifiers, losing in a penalty shootout to the French team Paris FC.
The Gunners, who reached the semi-finals of the competition last season, came from 2-0 and 3-2 behind to force a shootout after extra time.
However, Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie saved from Arsenal’s England striker Alessia Russo and Frida Maanum as the underdogs won 4-2 on spot-kicks.
Mathilde Bourdieu netted two quick goals at the start of the second half, giving Paris a strong advantage. However, Russo’s first goal for Arsenal narrowed the gap, and Beattie’s late header equalized the score during added time.
Paris led again in the second half of extra time through Julie Soyer’s fine first-time finish, only for summer signing Russo’s fabulous 25-yarder to bring Arsenal level again.
However, Nnadozie – who did not save a single spot-kick in Nigeria’s World Cup shootout defeat by England in the summer – was Paris’ hero as they progressed on penalties.
For the second time in just over four months, Arsenal suffered Champions League heartbreak after a gruelling tie that went the distance, but this was a far cry from May’s semi-final exit to German giants VfL Wolfsburg.
Head coach Jonas Eidevall will be deeply unhappy at how his side, who came so close to reaching last season’s final, could be humbled at such an early stage of the competition but they could have few complaints.
Having breezed past Swedish side Linkoping in their opening qualifier, this was a step up against a Paris side who have finished third in the French top flight for two seasons running behind Lyon and Paris St-Germain.
Arsenal went closest in the first half with a Lotte Wubben-Moy header cleared off the line, and Paris had barely created a chance before taking the lead in slightly fortunate fashion 11 minutes after the interval.
Margaux Le Mouel’s intended cross hit the far post and bounced nicely for Bourdieu to nod home a header that was ruled to have crossed the line despite being caught by recovering Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
Amid Arsenal’s shaken composure, Bourdieu swiftly extended the lead just a minute later.