Stina Blackstenius is on fire! Arsenal star nets twice as win over Brighton puts Gunners ahead of Man City for Women's Champions League spot
- Blackstenius scores twice in 4-0 win
- Maanum and Pelova also on scoresheet
- Arsenal leapfrog Man City into UWCL spots
TELL ME MORE: Blackstenius opened the scoring in just six minutes, leaving Brighton defender Zoe Morse on the floor before picking out the far bottom corner with a well-placed finish. Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Sloppy play at the back from the Seagulls allowed the Swedish striker to pounce onto a loose ball and guide it into the back of Megan Walsh's net again. Arsenal's No.25 was unlucky not to have a hat-trick moments later, timing her run perfectly to get on the end of Frida Maanum's pass before finishing - but the assistant's flag was up for offside. Replays, however, suggested she wasn't. Before the half hour mark, she'd be denied that treble again, this time by the woodwork.
Instead, it was Maanum who added Arsenal's third, heading home Noelle Maritz's cross for her fifth goal in her last six league games. She then played in Victoria Pelova to get her in on the act before the break, the January arrival finishing from an angle for her first WSL goal.
Blackstenius could have got her hat-trick before the hour had she found one of the corners in a 1-v-1 situation and Kathrine Kuhl was be thwarted by a fantastic Walsh save. But Brighton were nonetheless improved after half-time. Indeed, they would test the opposing defence several times, Elisabeth Terland forcing a particularly good save out of Manuela Zinsberger before Libby Bance was denied by an excellent Lotte Wubben-Moy block.
Arsenal kept their clean sheet though as they recorded a big win that takes them back into the top three, on course for a place in Europe next season. The only blemish on a great night was an injury to Brazilian forward Gio. The Gunners will hope it is not serious as their injury list is already incredibly long: Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Kim Little, Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither, Lina Hurtig and Steph Catley all on it.
THE MVP: Given Brighton's improvements under new head coach Melissa Phillips, this could've been a tricky outing for Arsenal had the Seagulls held out for a while and grown in confidence. Blackstenius' clinical touch in front of goal made sure that was not the case. She's now scored four goals in her last four games - and it should have been five, if not for that incorrect flag.
THE BIG LOSER: They weren't in action Wednesday night, but it was Manchester City who came out as the loser from this result. After a shock defeat to Liverpool at the weekend, Arsenal were able to compound the Citizens' misery by leapfrogging them into the Women's Champions League places on goal difference. The Gunners still have a game in hand, too.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Arsenal are next in action on Wednesday night, away at Everton. A win would give them a three-point cushion inside the European spots with only two games to go.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐