WSL: Manchester City 5 Arsenal 2
- Credit: Archant
Arsenal fell to defeat away to WSL rivals Manchester City at the Academy Stadium on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
It was the home side who started the better and created the first opportunity inside two minutes when Nikita Parris latched on to a Izzy Christiansen through ball but she saw her effort sail just wide of the upright.
Arsenal’s Danielle Van De Donk then thought she had broken the deadlock as she was played in by Leah Williamson, however she was well tackled at the final minute by Abbie McManus
Manchester City has a good opening on 24 minutes as Parris latched on to a defensive error from the Gunners but she fired the ball just wide of the target.
And City had another good break two minutes later as Parris fizzed a low cross across the face of goal only for Arsenal keeper Sari Van Veenendaal to dive at the feet of the onrushing attacker.
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Arsenal had a good chance on 28 minutes as Heather O’Relly’s cross was only half dealt with by Steph Houghton before the ball fell to the feet of Jodie Taylor, whose effort was then well blocked by Jennifer Beattie.
The Gunners were playing a counter attacking style and it nearly worked midway through the half as Jordan Nobbs skipped her way up the wing before her cross found Lisa Evans, but her effort was blocked this time by Houghton.
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Netherlands international Van Veenendaal came to her side’s rescue on 39 minutes as she pushed away a Jane Ross header however the ball fell to Parris on the edge of the area before her cross was turned in by Ross to put the Manchester club ahead.
The Gunners thought they were in on goal with 43 minutes on the clock when Taylor played a delightful ball over the top of the City defence to O’Relly but she was adjudged to have controlled it with her hand and was yellow carded in the process.
On the stroke of the break it was Arsenal who had another opening as Nobbs floated in a low cross that was flicked away by Demi Stokes for a corner with Euro 2017 golden boot winner Taylor lurking at the back post.
From the resulting corner Arsenal levelled the proceedings as Nobbs whipped in a fantastic cross that saw Emma Mitchell pounce to head into the net leaving home keeper Ellie Roebuck with no chance.
With Arsenal thinking they were going in level at the beak City had other ideas and took the lead in injury time at the end of the half as Van Veenendaal failed to hold a corner the ball fell perfectly to the feet of Houghton and she fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Two minutes into the second half Arsenal equalised as Roebuck failed to claim a cross from Evans and the ball fell to O’Relly, who slotted the ball into the back of the empty net.
It was the Gunners who started the second half better and they went close on 52 minutes as O’Relly picked up a loose pass from Beattie before she fired wide of goal.
However, within a minute the visitors had Van Veenendaal to thank as she made a good reaction save to keep out a low effort from Claire Emslie from an acute angle.
City then thought they had taken the lead as McManus played a through ball into Emslie before her low cross found Christiansen but her effort was to weak and sailed into the hands of the Arsenal stopper.
Nobbs thought she had put the away side into the lead after a swift counter attack saw Beth Mead pull the ball back to her before she cracked her effort off the crossbar and the ball bounced away.
In an end-to-end game it was the Blues who had the perfect chance to go ahead as Parris was played in one on one, but her powerful effort was hit straight down the throat of Van Veenendaal allowing her to push the strike away.
Georgia Stanway then put the home side ahead once again with 20 minutes to go as she timed her run perfectly to place the ball into the net after a defence-splitting pass from Christiansen.
It was 4-2 just two minutes later as Christiansen pounced on a mistake in defence and she fired her effort low across goal and into the net leaving Van Veenendaal with no chance.
That goal seemed to rattle the Gunners and if it wasn’t for the Dutch keeper they would have found themselves further behind when Stanway was played in and her effort was pushed away by the fantastic reactions of the keeper.
City did have a fifth when Jill Scott hit a powerful drive from inside the area across goal that left the keeper with no chance of saving after neat build-up play from the home side.
As Arsenal tired and grew increasingly frustrated City were close to adding a sixth when Stanway danced her way around the Gunners defence before her effort hit the side netting on 84 minutes.
But in an eventful tie the Gunners could have pulled a late goal back as Nobbs linked up with Mead before she curled her effort just wide of the target in the final minute.