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Arsenal 4-0 Brighton: Lioness hero Beth Mead braces as Gunners DOMINATE to open new Women’s Super League season… while visitors struggle after Emma Kullberg’s early sacking
- Arsenal were comfortable winner in the opening game of the new WSL season
- Beth Mead scored twice in the second half when the Gunners knocked Brighton off
- Emma Kullberg was sent off within ten minutes for Hope Powell’s Seagulls
- Kim Little and Stina Blackstenius were also on target for Jonas Eidevall’s side
Start for Arsenal, for English hero Beth Mead and for a Women’s Super League season that promises to be unlike anything this country has ever seen.
National mourning got this campaign off to a false start – last week’s curtain raise was postponed – but there was no Arsenal stutter in a sold-out Meadow Park last night. They had comfortable winners over Brighton, and Mead picked up where she left off after the Lionesses’ glorious summer. She scored Arsenal’s third and fourth, contributing goals from Kim Little and Stina Blackstenius.
On the other hand, there was little to put Leah Williamson, who led England to Euro 2022 glory, and the rest of the Arsenal in trouble four times. Not after Emma Kullberg was sent early to Brighton.
Beth Mead scored a brace as Arsenal ran out on comfortable winners in the delayed opener of the WSL
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Zinsberger, Wienroiter, Williamson (Wubben-Moy 83), Souza, McCabe, Walti (Maanum 77), Little, Mead, Miedema (Nobbs 77), Foord (Catley 64), Blackstenius (Hurtig 64)
Substitutes not used: Beattie, Maritz, Marckese, Iwabuchi
Manager: Jonas Eidevall
Scorers: Little 28, Blackstenius 50, Mead 63, 83
Brighton (4-4-2): Walsh, Fox, Williams, Kullberg, Pattinson, Bance (Robinson 46), Zigiotti Olme (Ferguson 86), Lee, Sarri, Terland, Groen
Substitutes not used: Parking, Startup, Jarvis
Manager: Hope Powell
Aired: Kullberg 7
Referee: Lisa Benno
So tougher tests await the side of Jonas Eidevall, who was picked to the title by one point last season by Chelsea.
Bigger crowds too. Arsenal will break the WSL attendance record in next week’s derby in north London, with more than 45,000 tickets sold.
They are not alone – every club has seen a spike in support after England’s glorious run to Wembley, when Mead won Player of the Tournament and the Golden Boot.
But after all the noise, color and ecstasy of last summer, 3,238 supporters fell silent. Before kick-off, a minute to remember. Then the national anthem. And then some football and finally some normality.
Arsenal never beat Brighton in the WSL and it wasn’t long before regular duty resumed last night.
After just seven minutes, Blackstenius picked up a through ball and was about to pull the trigger when her ankle was clipped by Kullberg. Arsenal demanded a penalty, referee Lisa Benn rightly gave a free kick; the error had occurred inches outside the area.
A red card followed and Kullberg could have few complaints. Except maybe one: Replays suggested Blackstenius had gone offside in the lead up.
Until 10, Brighton was already in survival mode. From there, Arsenal launched wave after wave of attack. Until Little’s opener at 28 minutes, however, there were few clear opportunities.
Caitlin Foord had the clearest of them, dragging a shot wide, and the cruel irony is that Arsenal’s breakthrough came shortly after Brighton’s first real foray.
Kim Little scored the opening goal as Arsenal put Brighton away in the first WSL match
On a rare break, the ball went all the way to Elisabeth Terland. Unfortunately for Hope Powell’s side, her attempt flew wide. Two minutes later, captain Little collected Foord’s cut before firing a powerful shot to the bottom corner.
Somehow it remained 1-0 until halftime. Despite Blackstenius hitting the bar.. Despite Lia Walti forcing Megan Walsh to a fine save and despite Arsenal creating a hat full of other openings.
Cruelly to Brighton, the same pattern repeated itself early in the second half. Another counter ended with another missed opportunity – this time Katie Robinson’s shot was well saved by Manuela Zinsberger. And moments later Arsenal made the visitors pay again, Mead found Blackstenius who ended emphatically.
From there it was a matter of how much. Together with partner Vivianne Miedema it made three. Her second, Arsenal’s fourth, arrived seven minutes from time after a neat dummy. It could and should have been even more.
Emma Kullberg was sacked in the first ten minutes of Brighton’s defeat on Friday