By Chris Harris
Julie Fleeting scored all five goals as Arsenal Ladies kicked off their UEFA Women's Cup campaign with an extraordinary 5-4 victory over WFC Rossiyanka.
The Russian champions are hosting all the games in Arsenal's group and gave Vic Akers' side a nervous finale after battling back from a three-goal deficit in the second half.
Ultimately though, the day belonged to Fleeting. The Scotland captain has been prolific since return to English football and the Rossiyanka defence simply couldn't handle her.
Fleeting scrambled her first goal in the opening minute of the game but Rossiyanka hit back immediately. Arsenal were back in front halfway through the first period when Fleeting smashed in a pass from Lianne Sanderson after a slick attacking move.
The Scotland star completed a first-half hat-trick three minutes before the break after jinking through the centre and rounding the Rossiyanka keeper. Fleeting made it 4-1 shortly afterwards, firing in from the edge of the box from Jayne Ludlow's pass.
Rossiyanka reduced the deficit six minutes after the restart following an error from Emma Byrne. But Arsenal restored their three-goal advantage after 64 minutes when Fleeting scored at the second attempt after another Sanderson assist.
With 22 minutes left the Russians made it 5-3 after Byrne had uncharacteristically spilled a free-kick. Kelly Smith missed a glorious chance to wrap up the victory and suddenly it was 5-4 when the hosts bundled in another goal five minutes from time.
That set up a grandstand finish. Rossiyanka threw everything at Arsenal and midfielder Ciara Grant went off with a bloodied face, but the Premier League champions held on to get off to a winning start.
In Tuesday's other game, Brøndby beat Bulgarian champions Femina Budapest 5-1. Arsenal face Budapest on Thursday before what is likely to be a group decider against Brøndby on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Emma Byrne kicks long
Sanderson picks her pass
Kelly Smith is dispossessed
Julie Fleeting celebrates her 5th goal
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