Arsenal Ladies star aiming for Champions League after win against Chelsea

Arsenal Ladies' Danielle Van de Donk celebrates her winning goal against Chelsea Ladies

Arsenal Ladies' Danielle Van de Donk celebrates her winning goal against Chelsea Ladies - Credit: Archant

Danielle Van de Donk believes Arsenal Ladies can realistically target a return to European football after her late winner earned them a crucial away victory at Chelsea.

The Dutch international fired home six minutes from time to clinch the Gunners’ third win in their last four Women’s Super League games and increase the pressure on their second-placed opponents.

Although Arsenal remain three points behind leaders Manchester City Women, who also have a game in hand, Van de Donk thinks a top-two finish – and a place in the Champions League – is well within their sights.

“You always want to go for the highest thing and Champions League is one of the best things you can achieve,” said Van de Donk, who is now the Gunners’ joint top scorer this season alongside Dan Carter.

“That’s what we’re aiming for and we just want to get as high as we can in the table. I think we’re heading the right way but we just need to keep winning, game by game.

“I think after the FA Cup final [win against Chelsea] something happened in the team that made us realise we can get the prizes, we are good and we can keep moving forward. That’s what we’re doing now.

“We’re taking steps, little steps, but we’re getting there. We showed some great teamwork throughout and it’s always nice to score, of course.

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“But I don’t mind if I don’t score. If the goals are just from one or two players it’s not good, I think – if everyone can score the opponents are more scared of you and that’s a good thing.”

Arsenal have not featured in the Champions League since 2014, when they reached the quarter-finals, but they are now only two points behind the Gunners in the race for the top two.

Pedro Martinez Losa’s side had to overcome an early setback on Sunday after goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal misjudged a 40-yard back-pass from Alex Scott and gifted Chelsea the lead.

However, Vicky Losada headed in a Fara Williams corner to equalise just before half-time and Chelsea spurned several opportunities in the second period before Van de Donk grabbed the decisive goal on the counter-attack.

“They had a lot of chances so I think we were lucky to win, but in sport you have luck sometimes and I think we earned it,” she added.

“The own goal was a bad moment, but that kind of thing happens in sport. I think it took us a little bit out of the game and it took us a while to start up again. But eventually we did it.”

The Gunners are back in league action on Sunday, when they travel to Sunderland (kick-off 1pm).

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