OL Reign stun Utah Royals in stoppage time to claim 1-0 win in NWSL Challenge Cup

Bethany Balcer scored for Reign
Bethany Balcer scored for Reign - (Copyright SIPA USA/PA Images)
19:35pm, Wed 08 Jul 2020
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OL Reign stunned Utah Royals with a stoppage time goal to clinch a 1-0 victory in the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup.

Not only was the fixture Reign’s first win in the competition but the goal was their first in the tournament. 

Royals started the stronger, showing cohesion between players particularly through Vero Boquete and Amy Rodriguez.

Royals’ Elizabeth Ball also produced an amazing defensive display, rivalled only by Reign's Alana Cook who halted a few Rodriguez chances.

Both sides struggled  to make the breakthrough and as they went in at the break goalless, Royals were left to ponder the first match so far in the tournament where they had not scored in the first half.

As the second half started the domination that Royals held in the first slipped away as Reign took control.

Two substitutions proved key - Bethany Balcer came on after 68 minutes, followed by Yuka Momiki in the 80th and both looked dangerous from their first touch of the ball.

Balcer got two close shots away with Royals goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart working hard to keep her at bay.

The last ten minutes of the game was mostly played in Reign’s box with Momiki getting a few crosses into the area but with nobody on the end of them.

However, the club’s luck changed just seconds into stoppage time as Momiki crossed into the box for Balcer to head home.

Much as Royals tried to force an equaliser, Reign held firm to record their first win of the tournament.

The two sides will play one more game before the quarter-finals. 

Royals will face Chicago Red Stars on July 12 and Reign take on Portland Thorns on July 13.

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