From Emirates Stadium: Manchester United ended Arsenal’s perfect start to reaffirm their status as WSL title contenders with a stunning 3-2 comeback victory at the Emirates on Saturday evening.
United suffered a second successive defeat against fellow Big Four teams last time out after a 3-1 defeat at Chelsea. They trailed 2-1 with six minutes left after Ella Toon’s first-half opener was reversed after goals from Freda Menem and Laura Weinrother.
But Millie Turner equalized in the 85th minute, before Alicia Russo headed in a dramatic stoppage-time winner to move the Red Devils back level on points with Arsenal at the WSL summit.
Despite being roared on by a partisan home crowd in north London, it was United who made the bright start, the lively Leah Galton forcing Manuela Zinberger into a stretching save as Russia took possession deep into Arsenal’s half inside seven minutes. Got frozen.
Jordan Nobbs, more used to influencing at the opposite end of the pitch, was on hand to keep out Nikita Paris’ effort over the bar after United’s flowing move, as the visitors opened the scoring. Seemed more likely. Scoring
The breakthrough came six minutes before half-time. Hayley Ladd provided a rising overlap and deep cross, Zinberger failed to claim a cross, and Toon side-footed home from the back post late on to give United a first-half lead.
After barely scoring in the first period, the second was less than a minute old when Arsenal leveled the scores. Manam picked up a loose ball inside his own half, surged across the United backline and saw his low effort unfortunately find the back of the net via a great deflection off Maya Le Tissier.
Arsenal did much better in the second half and took the lead with 18 minutes remaining. Katie McCabe sat on a teasing cross from deep and Weinrother powered home a sweetly struck volley at the back post.
United hardly threatened in the second 45, but Turner drew level five minutes from time. The centre-back rose highest to head Katie Zelm’s wicked set-piece delivery under the bar.
Buoyed by their leveller, United went in search of a winner, but were twice denied by a pair of successively brilliant Zinberger strikes. Arsenal keeper Martha Thomas got down to deny Lucia Garcia from point-blank range before pulling to keep out the volley.
From the resulting corner, United took the lead for a second time, Russia pounced home and there were scenes of mass delirium on the United bench and in the jubilant era.
Foward and Paris Lockhorns/Harriet Lander/Getty Images
GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Tipping a Galton effort around the post, forced into a strong, pulling save inside seven minutes. When United opened the scoring, Ladd pounced on a cross, but stunned his mistake with a brilliant save from point-blank range to keep out Garcia and then Thomas.
RB: Laura Wienroither – 7/10 – Made a brilliant recovery tackle to stop Galton from going on goal in the first half, and put up a real fight with United’s lively left winger. Gave Arsenal the lead with a late back post run and a superb volley.
CB: Lotte Wubben-Moy – 6/10 – Really calm and effectively brought the ball out from the back, but was beaten in the air by Turner for United’s leveller.
CB: Steph Catley – 6/10 – Won possession in his own half in the build-up to United’s opener. Between him and Wubben-Moy did a good job on Rousseau.
LB: Katie McCabe – 7/10 – Had a real fight with Paris. Delivered the teasing delivery that gave Arsenal the lead, putting it on a plate for Weinrother.
CM: Lia Walti – 6/10 – Sent Blackstein out with a great ball in the first half. Generally cool, calm and composed.
CM: Jordan Nobbs (Off 60′ for Miedema) – 6/10 – Stopped a Paris goal attempt in the first half and almost brilliantly picked out the forward. Really unable to understand the game with an itchy neck like he has in recent weeks.
CM: Frida Maanum – 8/10 – After a quiet first half, provided just what the Gunners quickly disappeared into in the second, eating up the ground with driving runs as he made his way through big deflections. Score equalized.
RW: Beth Mead (for Agyemang at 90′) – 6/10 – Picked the ball out for Paris in the build-up to Arsenal’s equaliser. Otherwise largely silent.
ST: Stina Blackstenius – 5/10 – Sparked early in the second half and pushed the United backline forward with her constant runs – but unable to make a major attacking impact on proceedings.
LW: Caitlin Ford – 5/10 – Kept really quiet by Batlle and looked beaten in the air in United’s third by Russia.
SUB: Vivianne Miedema (60′ for Nobbs) – 6/10
SUB: Michelle Agyemang (90′ for Mead) – N/A
United open the scoring via Ella Toon/Harriet Lander/Getty Images
GK: Mary Earps – 6/10 – Arsenal couldn’t do much on goal and were rarely tested otherwise.
RB: Ona Batlle – 8/10 – Did a good defensive job on Ford and got forward frequently in the first half. in others limited in its attacking influence.
CB: Maya Le Tissier – 6/10 – Unlucky to see Maanum’s effort go into the net for Arsenal’s equaliser. Between him and Turner, perhaps guilty of holding back too much in the build-up to the goal.
CB: Millie Turner – 8/10 – Like Le Tissier, slightly guilty of allowing Maanum to travel so far with the ball for the equalizer and failing to get out to intercept. Atonement by going home to United’s equaliser.
LB: Hannah Blundell – 7/10 – Sprinkled play effectively on a couple of occasions in the first half and did a good defensive job largely on the mead.
CM: Katie Zelm – 9/10 – Possessed the ball well in the first half. Delivered two teasing set-piece deliveries from which United scored their second and third goals.
CM: Hayley Ladd – 7/10 – Provided the cross that United opened the scoring after an overlapping run down the right.
AM: Ella Toone – 8/10 – Played in Galton with a trademark pass in the first half. Pop-up for cool side foot volleyball home United opener on previous post
RW: Nikita Paris (on 80 for Thomas) – 6/10 – Saw a first-half field goal attempt thwarted. Got possession back in the build-up to United’s opener, conceded possession in the build-up to Arsenal’s equaliser. McCabe had a really tough battle.
ST: Alessia Russo – 8/10 – Fed Lad ready to open the scoring for United. Otherwise it was really quiet. before United took the lead in stoppage time.
LW: Leah Galton (on 72 for Garcia) – 7/10 – Called Zinberger in early from a tight angle, and looked United’s most dangerous player in the first half as she continued to probe down the left. . Forced out in the second half due to injury.
SUB: Lucia Garcia (72′ for Galton) – 5/10 – Weinrother’s run was lost as Arsenal took the lead.
SUB: Martha Thomas (80′ for Paris) – 6/10
Player of the Match – Katie Zelem (Man United)