Tobin Heath nets first Arsenal goal as Gunners see off Hoffenheim

Arsenal's Mana Iwabuchi (right) celebrates with Tobin Heath (left) after scoring her sides second go

Arsenal's Mana Iwabuchi (right) celebrates with Tobin Heath (left) - Credit: PA

Arsenal kickstarted their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 victory over Bundesliga side Hoffenheim on Thursday evening at Meadow Park to move into second in the group behind Barcelona.

Arsenal needed to gain a positive result from the game following the disappointment in Barcelona ,and they certainly did that in a dominant performance over the German side. 

Hoffenheim started the game like a house on fire as they missed a glorious opportunity after just 3 minutes ,when Nicole Billa met a ball at the back-post following a cross but the usually clinal striker popped her shot wide of the target. 

Arsenal did respond however, when Jordan Nobbs and Katie McCabe linked up well before the Republic of Ireland captain saw her cross put behind for a corner by Jana Feldkamp.

From the resulting corner Martina Tufekovic was called into action in the Bundesliga sides goal ,the ball floating over several heads before falling for Leah Williamson who could only direct her header into the gloves of the keeper. 

Hoffenheim started the game well and with confidence when they created another opportunity, as Jule Brand won the ball in the box heading it down into the path of Tine De Caigny who blazed her effort over. 

On 16 minutes the home side forced the keeper into work ,when Beth Mead was brought down on the edge of the box by Brand before McCabe took the free kick fizzing it low and hard, but Tufekovic got down to beat the ball away. 

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Several minutes later the Gunners won a penalty ,as Mead got ahead of Michaela Specht who brought the WSL player of the month for September down as the referee pointed to the spot.

The ever-reliable Kim Little stepped up to take the penalty finding the bottom corner and sending the keeper the wrong way in the process to open the scoring. 

That goal gave the Gunners a real boost as they came forward yet again almost instantly with Mead before she curled a ball in aiming for Miedema ,however Feldkamp was on hand to cut it out.

Hoffenheim looked dangerous every-time they went on the attack when Zinsberger was forced to come off her line and claim when Billa played the ball into Chantal Hagel who got her cross in, but the Arsenal keeper was quick to claim the ball. 

On 31 minutes Arsenal came close once more with Miedema and Heath linking up with Heath fizzing in a low cross aiming for Mead, but Tufekovic was off her line quickly to gather.

Feldkamp was then so nearly embarrassed as she nearly scored an own goal from long range, as Noelle Maritz won the ball playing it to Mead who in turn was tackled by Feldkamp ,however the ball looped behind her before travelling over the head of her own keeper but to her fortune the ball sailed just wide.

With half-time approaching Arsenal had a great opportunity to double their lead when Williamson drove forward from deep before playing a pass into Heath, but she failed to get it under control allowing Hoffenheim to clear.

However, on the stroke of the interval it was 2-0 for the Gunners ,when McCabe whipped a ball in from the left for Miedema who headed it across goal for Heath to turn the ball into the net with a well-executed finish for her first goal for the club, a goal that settled the jangling nerves around Meadow Park.

Arsenal started the second half on top once more ,when Heath drove up the wing before crossing into the box, but it was overhit and flew over the head of Mead who was jumping to meet it at the back-post.

Zinsberger who has had an impressive season to date was called into action to keep out a powerful effort from Gia Corley from range as she cut inside before letting fly with a shot from range.

Arsenal did have their third on 51 minutes when Nobbs hit a stunning shot from distance that was well saved by the keeper however the ever-instinctive Miedema was lurking, and she turned the ball over the line to score her opening Champions League goal of the season.

Eidevall then made his first change of the game as he took off Mead replacing her with Nikita Parris.

Zinsberger was called into action once more as she made a stunning save to preserve her clean-sheet as she got her fingertips on the ball from a deflected Katharina Naschenweng strike.

McCabe was then next to bail Arsenal out of trouble as she made a fantastic goal-line clearance from a Sarai Linder header ,when she met a corner at the back-post the ball set to creep in, but McCabe had other ideas and hooked it away.

With 15 minutes to go Eidevall made a further two changes when he brought Miedema and Heath off for Australian duo Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley.

Zinsberger who has been one of Arsenal’s most improved players under Eidevall was called into action once again as she made a superb save to keep out the impressive Brand ,when she span in behind the Gunners defence but the keeper palmed her effort away to the right. 

Arsenal ended the game strongly when Lotte Wubben-Moy picked out Catley with pass allowing the Australian to get her cross away but neither Foord nor Nobbs could make a connection.

That was to be Nobbs last involvement in the game as she was replaced by Mana Iwabuchi for the final five minutes of the game.

Iwabuchi was instantly involved in the action as the Japanese international played a pass in for McCabe but her pull-back was cut-out and put behind for a corner.

From the resulting corner Arsenal were celebrating once more ,when McCabe’s delivery picked out Williamson who thumped her header like a rocket going into space into the back of the Hoffenheim net for her first ever Champions League goal.

Arsenal could have had a fifth minutes later when Foord drifted away from two players before playing a pass Into Parris and she drilled her effort wide of the target.

Foord had the final opportunity of the match in the final minute when she met a corner before flicking the ball goal-wards ,but the Hoffenheim defender scrambled the danger away.

It was the perfect response to losing against Barcelona last week ,as the Gunners now have to wait two and half weeks before they are next in action against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup on October 31.

Arsenal: Zinsberger, Maritz, Williamson, Wubben-Moy, McCabe, Little, Maanum, Nobbs (Iwabuchi 84), Mead (Parris 65), Miedema (Foord 74), Heath (Catley 74). 

Unused substitutes: Williams, Beattie, Goldie, Walti, Schnaderbeck 

Hoffenheim: Tufekovic, Wienroither, Feldkamp, Specht, Naschenweng, Linder (Steinert 78), Dongus (Harsch 78), Hagel (Degen 90), Brand, De Caigny (Corley 46), Billa (Leimenstoll 78).

Unused Substitutes: Dick, Schrader, Buhler, Kocsan, Fuhre. 

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