Arsenal edge towards Champions League qualification with Slavia Prague win
- Credit: PA
Arsenal took a big step towards the Champions League group stages with a 3-0 victory over Slavia Prague on Tuesday evening.
Jonas Eidevall was unable to take the game as he finalises visas for his family in Sweden, so assistant manager Aaron D’Antino took charge of the clash
The home side started like a house on fire and took the lead after just two minutes when Steph Catley crossed to the back-post for Nikita Parris who sent a header into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Olivie Lukášová.
The Gunners were controlling the game early on and tried to carve out another opening when Parris attempted to cross for Caitlin Foord but it was over-hit and sailed over the crossbar.
It was all Arsenal pressure but they weren’t creating many clear cut chances but did have one from a free kick inside 21 minutes when Mana Iwabuchi crossed for Jennifer Beattie but it was overhit and sailed out for a goal-kick.
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However the Gunners won a penalty when Foord was brought down by Diana Bartovičová and Kim Little stepped up to take the spot-kick that saw her send Lukášová the wrong way and double Arsenal’s lead.
Arsenal had the first opening of the second half when Catley and Katie McCabe linked up before the ball was pulled back for Little but she curled her effort just wide of the target.
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The second half was very much like the first with the home side very much in control and Leah Williamson went close to making it 3-0 when she met a corner before glancing a header just wide of the target.
On the hour mark the north Londoners had another opening when Williamson crossed for Frida Maanum who flicked her effort wide of the target from close range.
D’Antino then made a triple change on 62 minutes when Williamson,Little and Foord were replaced by Vivianne Miedema, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Lia Walti.
Miedema made an instant impact as she played a pass through for Maanum but Lukášová was off her line quickly to gather the loose ball ahead of the Norwegian international.
D’Antino then brought on Beth Mead for Parris for the final twenty minutes of the game to get more minutes into her legs ahead of the Women’s Super League kicking off on Sunday.
Mead who has had an impressive pre-season campaign claimed an assist almost immediately as she played a sublime ball over the top for Miedema to run onto before dinking the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net on 72 minutes.
With fifteen minutes left to play Manuela Zinsberger was called into action when Tereza Kožárová was picked out in space before getting her shot away but the keeper did well to get down and claim the ball.
On 86 minutes Arsenal could have added their fourth with Wubben-Moy as she met a corner but her effort was well saved by the Slavia keeper as she sprung across her goal to tip the ball away.
The final substitution was made in the 88th minute with Anna Patten replacing Maanum for the final few minutes.
That was the last opportunity that the returning fans to Meadow Park witnessed in what turned out to be a comfortable victory for the Gunners heading into the second leg next Thursday.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Maritz, Williamson, (Wubben-Moy 62) ,Beattie, Catley, Maanum (Patten 88), Little (Walti 71), Iwabuchi, Parris (Mead 71), Foord (Miedema 71), McCabe.
Unused substitutes: Williams, Cull , Goldie, Boye-Sorensen.