WSL: Man Utd Women 0 Arsenal Women 1
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Danielle Van de Donk struck a late winner as Arsenal snatched victory over Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village on Monday evening.
It looked like Arsenal were heading back home with a point thanks to an inspired display from home goalkeeper Mary Earps as she made save after save to deny the Gunners in what was a frustrating night for the champions.
But Dutch international Van De Donk popped up with a low finish to ensure all three points for the visitors.
It was Manchester United who began the better as Jess Sigsworth picked up a loose ball and picked out Ella Toone with a pinpoint cross, but her diving header sailed just wide of the goal when she really should have hit the target.
Arsenal then began to dictate the tempo of the game and on 26 minutes Katie McCabe's cross following a free-kick was well cut out by Amy Turner as Vivianne Miedema was lurking to pounce at the back post.
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On 37 minutes Earps then made a tremendous save to keep out Miedema as parried her thumping header before somehow springing back up to her feet to save the rebound with her feet.
Two minutes later Earps was nearly lobbed directly from a Kim Little corner but the England international stopper reacted well to tip the ball over the crossbar as Arsenal began to increase the pressure.
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On the stroke of half time Earps had to be alert again as Miedema jinked her way into the penalty area before her low effort was well claimed down low.
Joe Montemurro's side started the second half the way they finished the first, on top, as Jordan Nobbs - started for the first time since coming back from injury - had an effort that was easily held by Earps.
It was then the turn of Jill Roord to have the next opening as she met a Little corner before drilling her effort wide of the target.
In a spell of it being all Arsenal it was Manchester United who could have stolen the lead when Jane Ross was played in but Gunners keeper Manuela Zinsberger stood firm to deny her.
In a frantic end to end game Little had a huge chance to break the deadlock when she was denied twice on 59 minutes from the sublime Earps as she made two fine reaction stops from the Arsenal captain.
Casey Stoney's side had given local rivals Manchester City a run for their money last weekend and they nearly stunned the champions on 73 minutes when Hayley Ladd got away from Jennifer Beattie but fired her effort wide from close range when she should have made Zinsberger work.
Arsenal then thought they had taken the lead two minutes later when Miedema played in Beth Mead but her effort was deflected wide from the toe of Millie Turner as it looked like it was sailing into the bottom corner.
It wasn't looking like it was going to be the night for the Gunners as Miedema volleyed over on 82 minutes. The ball set up perfectly for her to strike but she drilled it over the crossbar when she usually would have tested the keeper.
Miedema then had a big opportunity on 86 minutes when she rose highest to reach a cross from Mead but she only turn it behind from close range.
Two minutes later the Dutch forward would hit the post as Little threaded a pass into her, as her low effort cracked the woodwork and bounced away as the frustration grew significantly greater from the Arsenal dugout.
However, on 89 minutes there was late drama as Van De Donk finally found a way past Earps as she lashed home after Leah Williamson's effort was blocked by the United defence to make it back-to-back wins for the Gunners.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Beattie, Williamson, Nobbs (Van De Donk 69), Little, Miedema, Roord (Quinn 90), McCabe, Evans, Maier, Mead.
Unused subs: Mitchell, Peyraud-Magnin, Schnaderbeck, Grant, Filis.