WSL: Arsenal v Birmingham City
Birmingham fire back at Arsenal in rousing second half before the Gunners seal the deal with a 4-2 win
7 March 2022
Arsenal moved eight points clear at the top of the Women's Super League with a 4-2 home win over bottom side Birmingham City at Meadow Park.
Rafaelle netted her first Arsenal goal while Vivianne Miedema created history becoming the first player to claim 100 WSL goal contributions, while Beth Mead scored her 50th Arsenal goal and Caitlin Foord wrapped the three points up.
Jonas Eidevall’s side started on top with Katie McCabe getting on the end of a quick pass from Miedema, but former Gunners defender and McCabe’s Irish teammate Louise Quinn came across to make a strong tackle.
On seven minutes the Gunners had another good opening when Miedema met a corner ,but her shot was blocked ,however it bounced out for Leah Williamson who volleyed over the top of the bar.
On 14 minutes Arsenal went inches away from taking the lead, as Laura Wienroither came close to opening her account for the club when her powerful effort took a wicked defection off Harriet Scott and hit the post before going out for a corner.
From the corner Arsenal had the ball in the net, as Steph Catley whipped a delightful ball into the unmarked Rafaelle and she headed the ball down into the ground before it sailed beyond Marie Hourihan.
McCabe then had a good opportunity on 23 minutes from a free-kick just outside the penalty area in a central position, but her powerful strike was deflected off Scott and away.
Miedema then had her history making goal ,as she was played in on goal by Kim Little before her initial shot was blocked however , the ball bounced back into her path and she scuffed her effort into the net for her 100th WSL goal involvement.
Arsenal could have had their third on the stroke of the break when Lia Walti played a fantastic reverse ball into Stina Blackstenius, but before she could shoot Hourihan was out quickly to claim the loose ball.
Arsenal who were in total control of the game came out quicker in the second half, and could have had their third when Mead played a square pass for Little ,who drilled her effort just over the top of the bar.
Northern Ireland international Rebecca Holloway then found herself in the book in the 59th minute when she allowed frustration to get the better of her pushing Wienroither over.
Eidevall then thought it was time to make a change when he brought off Blackstenius to be replaced by Caitlin Foord on the hour mark.
The home side came close to making it 3-0 when Foord won a corner after her strike hit Scott and went behind , before from the resulting set-piece Miedema headed the ball back to Rafaelle who flicked her effort just wide.
Eidevall’s troops did make it 3-0 on 71 minutes when Catley did well down the left after being surrounded by two Birmingham players, but she still managed to squeeze the ball into the path of Mead who slotted the ball across the face of goal and into the far corner for her 50th Gunners goal.
Minutes later Arsenal made a triple change when Tobin Heath , Mana Iwabuchi and Frida Maanum came on for Catley , Miedema and Little.
Birmingham did pull a goal back when Wienroither brought down Lucy Quinn allowing the Blues to pump the ball into the box , Gemma Lawley got on the end of the ball and crossed for Libby Smith to score her second goal against the Gunners this season.
Birmingham made sure the Gunners were in for a nervy finish ,as Wienroither played a careless throw in for Rafaelle who could only clear against Lucy Quinn ,allowing the Birmingham midfielder in on goal to lift the ball over Manuela Zinsberger and into the net for 3-2 with less than 10 minutes to go.
Arsenal did manage to slow the game down and retake control for the final few minutes ,and did manage to get their fourth when Walti played an excellent ball over the top for Foord who thumped her strike into the bottom corner to wrap up the three points.
In Injury time Arsenal made their final change of the game as Jordan Nobbs came on for her 250th Arsenal appearance replacing Mead.
Zinsberger, Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley (Heath 72), Little (Iwabuchi 72), Miedema (Maanum 72), Walti , Mead (Nobbs 90), Blackstenius (Foord 60), McCabe.
Substitutes not used:
Williams , Beattie , Maritz, Wubben-Moy.
Hourihan, Lawley , Quinn, Scott, Finn, Murray, Sarri, Holloway , Whelen (Ryan-Doyle 75), Smith , Quinn.
Substitutes not used:
Jones , Cowie , Cole, Jenner, Timms