Arsenal suffer setback after Manchester City loss

Arsenal's Jill Roord (left) and Manchester City's Lauren Hemp battle for the ball

Arsenal's Jill Roord (left) and Manchester City's Lauren Hemp battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park - Credit: PA

Arsenal suffered a real setback in their quest for qualifying for next season's Champions League as they lost out 2-1 to Manchester City at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon. 

City were close to opening the scoring in a freakish manner as Leah Williamson played a heavy ball back to Manuela Zinsberger whose clearance hit Ellen White and bounced wide of the target. 

The visitors then had an opportunity when Lauren Hemp skipped down the flank before her low cross was inches away from the feet of White but Katie McCabe reacted well to turn the ball behind for a corner. 

Arsenal's first opening of the match came on the 14th minute when Vivianne Miedema picked up the ball before driving into the box, cutting it back to Jill Roord whose powerful drive was well blocked by City captain Steph Houghton.

The Gunners then could have created a huge chance in the 22nd minute when City keeper Ellie Roebuck scuffed her clearance, after holding onto the ball for too long, and it fell for Danielle van de Donk who couldn't find the run of Miedema as Roebuck cut out the danger to redeem herself. 

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However, City took the lead in the 24th minute as Chloe Kelly got away down the right before crossing for White and she fired in with a half volley off the underside of the bar leaving Zinsberger with no chance of saving. 

Joe Montemurro's side nearly responded immediately when Beth Mead drove forward before firing a low strike in on goal but it was straight at Roebuck as the keeper had a comfortable save. 

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On 33 minutes the City keeper was called into action again when Mead drove into the box before pulling the ball back to Roord who saw her effort blocked. The ball bounced back to Miedema who also saw her strike blocked as it fizzed out to McCabe whose effort was saved by Roebuck. 

Gareth Taylor's side then came close to doubling their advantage on 38 minutes when Kelly fizzed a low cross across the box aiming for Hemp who poked wide at the back post. 

The game was very much end to end and it was Arsenal's turn to attack as Roord put the ball in the net after Miedema played her in on goal, but as she put the ball beyond Roebuck the flag was raised and the Gunners celebrations were cut short. 

White was causing the Gunners all sorts of problems and went close to doubling the lead when she found her way into the box but clipped her effort wide of the target when she should have made Zinsberger work.

Taylor's side had the final opening of the first half when Alex Greenwood whipped in a corner for Lucy Bronze who rose highest and flicked her header over the top as the Blues went in ahead at the interval.

After a slow start to the second half Montemurro's troops got back on terms in the 57th minute as they hit City on the counter attack as Roord picked out Caitlin Foord and she slotted beyond the despairing dive of Roebuck.

However, City then nearly instantly had the lead back when Kelly, who was causing the Gunners problems with her movement, was picked out on the edge of the box but she drilled her effort over the top of the crossbar.

Taylor's side responded well as Hemp jinked down the wing before picking out White who was denied by an excellent piece of defending from Lotte Wubben-Moy who made a crucial block.

On 69 minutes City thought they were ahead when Bronze met a corner but Zinsberger made a fantastic low save before the ball rebounded out to White whose effort was cleared off the line by the impressive Wubben-Moy.

City were really starting to put on the pressure and they should have been ahead when White picked a loose ball up before racing into the box but her effort hit the post before Leah Williamson made a terrific block from the rebound from Hemp. 

The visitors were in full control of the game and Caroline Weir came close from a free-kick as she swung it into the mix but Zinsberger, fresh after signing a new contract on Friday, was equal to it saving with her legs.

Montemurro was then forced into a change on 78 minutes as McCabe had to hobble off and was replaced by Noelle Maritz.

And City went ahead in the 79th minute when Kelly burst down the side before whipping in a perfect ball for Hemp who sent home a flying, diving header into the net leaving Zinsberger with no chance.

Arsenal didn't give up, however, as Foord knocked the ball over Roebuck who was caught in no-man's land but the Australian couldn't get the ball under control and Abby Dahlkemper was on hand to clear the danger with five minutes left.

The hosts were pushing hard for the crucial equaliser and Miedema was played in but her effort was blocked when she took too much time on the ball to get her shot in on goal.

Miedema again had a fine chance to equalise when Mead picked her out in the area but she took a heavy touch and it rolled into the grateful clutches of Roebuck.

It was Arsenal who had the final opportunity of the game as the energetic Mead got into the box but from a tight angle her effort was fizzed straight at Roebuck as City held on for all three points.

The win for City moves them seven points clear of the Gunners in third as Arsenal travel to champions Chelsea next on Wednesday night.

Arsenal: Zinsberger, Evans, Williamson, Wubben-Moy, McCabe (Maritz 77), van de Donk, Walti, Roord, Mead, Miedema, Foord. Unused subs: Patten, Williams, Malin, Gut, Stenson.

Referee: Kirsty Dowle.

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