Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal: Substitutes shine as spoils shared at Leigh Sports Village

A disappointing loss to Liverpool at Emirates Stadium last weekend saw Jonas Eidevall make a plethora of changed to his starting eleven ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Leigh Sports Village. There, they’d meet a Manchester United side that picked up three points at Villa Park – with Marc Skinner’s starting lineup unchanged as a result.

MUN: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, George; Zelem, Ladd; Galton, Toone, García; Geyse

ARS: D’Angelo; Codina, Beattie, Ilestedt; Catley, Wälti, Little, Pelova, Maritz; Russo, Blackstenius

A bright start from both sides saw a multitude of chances throughout the opening fifteen minutes at Leigh Sports Village, with Sabrina D’Angelo doing well to hold Lucía García’s cross for Leah Galton – although Victoria Pelova should have done better before seeing her shot blocked by Millie Turner just minutes later.

Arsenal would find a way through in the 14th minute though, with Steph Catley initiating a rapid break as she found Alessia Russo on the left flank. Returning to her former club, the England international selflessly played Stina Blackstenius through on goal – and she made no mistake, rounding Mary Earps with a curling effort that settled beautifully in the bottom-right corner.

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But the Arsenal advantage would last less than fifteen minutes – and with Sabrina D’Angelo coming into the starting eleven to replace Manuela Zinsberger after a disappointing performance last weekend, it would be another goalkeeping error that cost the Gunners.

Gabby George’s ball over the top from the left touchline looked destined to play Galton through on goal, with the winger finding herself one-on-one against the onrushing D’Angelo – but the goalkeeper’s woefully mistimed her attempted clearance, allowing Galton to slot home into an empty net to restore parity.

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Manchester United sought to take the lead for the first time with five first-half minutes remaining as Geyse looked to send García through on goal with a defence-splitting through ball, but the Brazilian’s pacy delivery was held well by D’Angelo.

Keen to ensure a strong start to the second half, Geyse managed to get the better of Jen Beattie as she surged towards goal – but her ball across the face of goal trickled wide of the far post with Galton unable to poke home.

Chances were present for both sides throughout the final period, but it was Russo that came closest to scoring the third goal of the game as she rattled the post with her curling effort – until Melvine Malard netted on her debut to thunder Manchester United into the lead.

With Noëlle Maritz conceding possession in a dangerous area, Hinata Miyazawa was able to nod a ball through for the Olympique Lyonnais loanee, who made no mistake with her convincing finish past D’Angelo.

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Frida Maanum thought she had restored parity with just three minutes of regulation time remaining, but the assistant referee’s flag was promptly raised as the Norwegian had strayed into an offside position.

Yet there would still be relief for the Gunners, as Cloé Lacasse picked out the top corner with a sensational curling strike deep inside stoppage time – netting her first goal for Arsenal after her introduction as a substitute.

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Manchester United’s attention must now turn to their first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League tie, as they host Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. They’ll return to WSL action on October 15 as they welcome Leicester City to Leigh Sports Village, while Arsenal must find form ahead of their home game against Aston Villa on the same date.