We made a perfect start to our UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign on Wednesday with a dominant 4-0 victory over FC Okzheptes in Moscow.
Four Gunners made their debuts for the club, with two finding the back of the net, while Jonas Eidevall took to the touchline for the first time in a competitive fixture.
As strong favourites, we were expected to dominate possession with the Kazakhstani side sitting deep in a low block - and from the first whistle to the last, that’s exactly how things played out.
But after a number of free-flowing moves, debutant Mana Iwabuchi opened the scoring, combining with Vivianne Miedema on the edge of the area before firing into the bottom corner.
Our Dutch striker then went on to win a penalty less than five minutes later, stalling her run in the area and accelerating at speed to draw a foul from the defender. Kim Little stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, firing in off the left post.
The remainder of the first-half proved to be a stop-start affair with Okzheptes winding down the clock at every opportunity, but we kicked back into gear following the restart, with Beth Mead providing the finishing touch to a stunning team goal.
Nikita Parris provided the assist for our No 9, crossing from the right wing, and late on she grabbed her reward for an impressive debut performance, firing back across the keeper after wriggling free inside the penalty area.
All in all, the perfect way to start our 2021/22 season.
WHAT IT MEANS
We’re through to the next stage of the Round One mini-tournament of the UWCL.
We will face the winner of PSV v Lokomotiv Moscow on Saturday in the final, back here in Moscow.
Victory would see us progress to Round Two of the tournament, which will be played on a home and away basis.
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