There was late drama at the Leigh Sports Village as we came back from behind to seal a well-earned point against Manchester United.
An early goal from Stina Blackstenius gave us the lead but we were undone by the hosts through Leah Galton and Melvine Malard. With mere seconds left on the clock, a spectacular last-minute strike from Cloe Lacasse stole a point from the jaws of defeat.
Jonas Eidevall made six changes to our starting XI going into the clash at the Leigh Sports Village, as Spanish defender Laia Codina earned her debut as part of a back three with Amanda Ilestedt and Jen Beattie.
Sabrina D'Angelo, Stina Blackstenius, Noelle Maritz and Victoria Pelova all joined our lineup as we searched for our first win away against the Red Devils since 2021.
With a bright start even more vital away from home, we showed our fire from the kick-off. Some great initiative from Victoria Pelova allowed our Dutch midfielder to poach Ella Toone in United's half and race towards the box. Toone, however, managed to recover just in time to block Pelova's shot.
We opened the scoring with a fantastic goal on the counter. On her return to her former club, Alessia Russo picked up the ball in her own half and turned well, unlocking Steph Catley on the left flank. In turn, Catley threaded a pass through to Stina Blackstenius.
Despite being pushed the whole way to goal, our Swedish forward shrugged off her defender and beat Mary Earps with a supremely composed finish.
Our lead lasted just ten minutes, however, after a ball over the top put Leah Galton through on goal and unmarked. As Sabrina D’Angelo tried to clear at the edge of her box, she was undone by the bounce and Galton was then free to tap home to level the score.
Undeterred, we bounded towards the hosts’ goal to try and regain an advantage. After a fantastic run down the left wing, Steph Catley fired a shot goalwards and forced a good save from Earps in the United goal.
Buoyed by their equaliser, the hosts also began to turn the dial in the final third but our backline dealt well under consistent pressure from Galton and Brazilian forward, Geyse.
Kim Little and Russo’s composed footwork at the edge of the area led to a number of close chances as the half drew to a close, yet it remained 1-1 as the two teams headed down the tunnel.
United made a strong start to the second half and Geyse dragged a shot wide of D’Angelo’s goal after some neat build-up play.
Our Gunners continued to counter well and a fantastic piece of skill from Russo to turn her marker forced United to give away a free kick just on the edge of the area, but we were unable to make anything of the set piece.
A triple substitution saw Katie McCabe, Frida Maanum and Caitlin Foord enter the fray, and they provided an immediate injection of energy.
In one particularly dynamic spell of attacking football, Lia Walti proceeded to dance through defenders in the penalty box and played a lovely ball across the face of goal but none of our arriving attackers got the vital final touch.
Russo also came close to reinstating our lead on several occasions - once, through on goal, but denied by Earps’ outstretched leg and for a second time, striking the post with superb curling effort.
It would be the hosts who would strike next against the run of play, as Melvine Malard snuck between our backline and poked the ball into the net.
Just as it seemed as though the goal would never find the back of the net despite our best efforts, super sub Cloe Lacasse struck gold. Her fantastic hit soared into the top left corner and earned us a point at the death.
What it means
Next up in the Women's Super League, we host Carla Ward's Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium. Over 28,000 tickets have already been sold and you can join us on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal starting XI: D’Angelo (GK), Beattie (Wubben-Moy, 82), Catley, Little (C), Walti, Maritz (Lacasse, 86), Pelova (Maanum, 59), Russo, Blackstenius (Foord, 59), Codina (McCabe, 59), Ilestedt
Subs: Zinsberger (GK), Hurtig, Kuhl, Cooney-Cross
Manchester United starting XI: Earps (GK), George, Le Tissier, Blundell, Toone (Miyazawa, 76), Zelem (C), Galton, Ladd, Garcia (Malard, 76), Turner, Geyse (Williams, 72)
Subs: Tullis-Joyce (GK), Riviere, Evans, Naalsund, Parris, Rabjohn
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