Arsenal’s progress to the group stage of the Women’s Champions League didn’t come without a couple of bizarre hitches.
The English team advanced by beating Ajax 1-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 aggregate victory, but only after pre-match shenanigans that saw the goalposts needing to be adjusted because they were too short and a late-game incident when Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said he was incorrectly told he could make a concussion substitution.
“It’s been a very weird experience being here,” Eidevall said.
Staff brought out a ladder and were seen changing the height of the goal frame before kickoff after Arsenal officials made it known the crossbar was 10 centimeters too low, according to the British media. The crossbar was measured again at halftime.
“Playing against a big club like Ajax, where we had to measure the goals before the start of the game ... I have never experienced anything like it,” Eidevall said.
The Swedish coach also explained that he was told by the fourth official that he could replace Beth Mead with a concussion substitute after she needed to be taken off following a clash of heads.
“We were preparing Lina Hurtig (to come on as a substitute), then when we are going to do it she (the fourth official) says ‘no,’” Eidevall said.
“We were getting her ready for two or three minutes. We would have spent that time speaking to the players about how we could defend with 10 players. That misinformation from the referee … I honestly don’t know why and how that could be. It’s such a simple question to answer yes or no.” There are no concussion substitutions in UEFA-organized competitions, unlike in the Women’s Super League where a replacement can be made in the event of a head injury even if all substitutes have been used.
Teams can make five substitutions in a match in the Women’s Champions League but only at a maximum of three separate intervals. Arsenal had already made three changes at separate times.