Brilliant 3-0 away win for Arsenal over Brighton keeps them five points clear of Chelsea
By Football Reporter
An imperious first half from Arsenal against Brighton and Hove Albion eased them to a 3-0 win, extending their lead at the top of the Women’s Super League to five points.
Home keeper Megan Walsh had already performed heroics by the time Stina Blackstenius put the Gunners in front, tapping home Caitlin Foord’s ball across the six-yard box.
Beth Mead showed excellent composure to curl home for her side’s second before Blackstenius put the game to bed, heading home a Foord cross.
With Jonas Eidevall’s side into their groove early, Walsh had to be at her best – and the stand-in Brighton captain responded.
A raft of point-blank saves denied Mead and Blackstenius within seconds of one another, after a Lotte Wubben-Moy header had been tipped over the bar.
But she could do little about the opener, Blackstenius peeling off at the back post to crash home a wicked delivery from Foord.
Vivianne Miedema then pounced on a short back pass from Emily Simpkins before driving into the box and teeing up Mead, who opted for accuracy when slotting past Walsh.
With Brighton reeling, Arsenal continued to pour forward and Blackstenius turned their threat into a third goal.
This time Foord popped up on the opposite flank, delivering a perfect ball for the Swedish forward to intelligently glance into the far corner.
Arsenal may have had more – Miedema kept at bay by Walsh on no fewer than three occasions in the second half – with Brighton’s best chance falling to Kayleigh Green, who could only fire wide of the largely redundant Manuela Zinsberger.
To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com
Brighton and Hove Albion manager Hope Powell said: “We expected it to be tough playing against Arsenal and I think they showed their quality tonight, even though two of the goals were our own doing,” said Brighton and Hove Albion boss Hope Powell.
“We were a bit sloppy, and they latched onto that. But it was a real positive with our second half performance – we didn’t concede and we played a bit higher up and tried to create opportunities.
“We always knew they were probably going to have more of the ball than we would and the quality of their players would suggest that. So, first and foremost, we had to be quite tight and hard to beat. But we got a little bit sloppy and as result of that they scored at least two goals which we gifted.
“Second half we were playing for a bit of pride and I think we showed that. Megan (Walsh) has been a stand-out for us this season and tonight, based on her performance, she was at her best and denied them a number of clear-cut opportunities.
“I think Maisie (Symonds) also did particularly well and we have to give our young players opportunities as and when we can.”
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said:
“No one is missing on purpose but going forward we created so many opportunities and after 20 minutes you feel ‘why aren’t we winning this by two goals already?
“We do need to be more efficient in matches going forward, especially in the Champions League but that’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you score too many, sometimes not enough and today was probably like that.
“We signed Stina (Blackstenius) to see if she could form a partnership with Viv (Miedema) and that’s what is starting to happen. Viv is like a nine and a ten in one, and she’ll get her goals.
“Today we had a really good half but you can’t just stop playing – it’s only of the worst things in football but we had our chances in the second half.
“We are at our best when we play with intensity – you can hear our thunder before you can see our lightning, if you like – and it’s something we’ve spoken about before. It was important to bring Brighton to a state of the game where they couldn’t handle it and I thought we did that.”
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-1-1): Megan Walsh (c); Fliss Gibbons, Emma Kullberg, Maya Le Tissier, Emma Koivisto; Kayleigh Green, Aileen Whelan, Emily Simpkins, Ellie Brazil; Lee Geum-min; Danielle Carter
Substitutes: Danique Kerkdijk for Gibbons 46, Inessa Kaagman for Brazil 63, Julia Zigiotti for Whelan 72, Maisie Symonds for Carter 72, Libby Bance for Green 90
Substitutes not used: Katie Startup (gk), Danielle Bowman, Megan Connolly
Bookings: Kullberg 81, Kaagman 90+3
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Manuela Zinsberger; Steph Catley, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Leah Williamson, Noelle Maritz; Lia Walti, Kim Little (c); Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead; Stina Blackstenius
Substitutes: McCabe for Foord 70, Laura Wienroither for Maritz 70, Jordan Nobbs for Blackstenius 78, Nikita Parris for Mead 78, Jennifer Beattie for Wubben-Moy 87
Substitutes not used: Lydia Williams (gk), Frida Maanum, Simone Boye, Mana Iwabuchi
Goals: Blackstenius 27, 41, Mead 34
Bookings: Williamson 8, Foord 63
Referee: Tom Reeves