The early minutes of the encounter were dominated by the top seeded Romanian side Olimpia Cluj but the Archers slowly gained footholds, breaking down the wings and finding ways to threaten the Cluj defence.
Despite being forced into some early defensive manoeuvres it was the women from Wales who nabbed the first goal, with Naomi Clipston being the first goal scorer in the entire UWCL season. Aimee Phillips poked the ball past one defender before evading another sliding challenge and whipping in a low cross for Clipston to calmly, and with serious Champions League skill, flick the ball between her legs. The ball spun into the far post and after 24 minutes the Archers had the lead.
Just after the half an hour mark the mood sharply changed for Met. Trying to move the ball on quickly and start yet another attack for the Archers, Chloe Chivers, who at that point had been a lively force, went down unchallenged. Leaving the field on a stretcher, it was clear she was in some discomfort. Stacey Ayling replaced the stricken youngster, with Liv Thompson moved out wide and a change in plan for Met was forced into play.
Despite the ten minutes added time, neither side really threatened for the rest of the half. Five minutes into the second half a Cluj free kick flashed over Estelle Randall’s bar. Randall was arguably man of the match with the three goals conceded doing no justice to the number of incredible saves she pulled off during the game.
Just after the hour mark a goalmouth scramble allowed Cluj to equalise with Mara Batea knocking the ball home from a few yards out. They quickly followed this with another deflected goal as the ball was knocked into the path of Cristina Carp and the Cluj striker stabbed her effort into the bottom corner.
Almost immediately Met made the score 2-2 as the pacey Thompson streaked down the left wing before lofting the cutback right into the path of Aimee Phillips, and the Kiwi cushioned the ball before feinting past the defender and slotting the ball into the bottom left corner of Cluj’s goal.
Unfortunately for Met, the end-to-end action continued and a Cluj cross was deflected into their wingers path who made sure that Randall could not keep the ball out of her net. Not many punters had predicted the opening game would be such an even and high scoring game but the entertainment factor was high in this affair.
The proverbial kitchen sink was quite heavily thrown towards the Cluj goal, with Clipston coming closest as her 35-yard freekick from a tight angle thudded into the crossbar and bounced clear of the waiting attackers.
It wasn’t to be for Met, who arguably deserved a point from the game, and they will now face an uphill battle in ensuring qualification from the group with the hosts Kharkiv up next.