Four moments of quality saw Arsenal get off the mark in their Champions League group with a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim.
The Gunners were not at their free-flowing best against a spirited German side but, as is so often the case, their clinical edge in front of goal made this look a more comfortable victory than it was across the 90 minutes.
Hoffenheim are a young side who are still growing on the European stage and if the performance of 18-year-old Jule Brand is anything to go by, the future is bright for Gabor Gallai’s side.
Arsenal have got their UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign back on track on Thursday
The more experienced Gunners were worthy winners on the night and back-to-back games against Danish side HB Koge gives them the chance to put themselves in a strong position before their re-match with Barcelona on December 9.
The Gunners were beaten 4-1 by the European champions last week and knew they needed to pick up three points in their first home game in Group C.
But it was Hoffenheim who almost took an early lead in the second minute. Jule Brand’s cross into the box was not dealt with and the ball fell kindly for Nicole Billa, but she could only fire wide from close-range.
But Arsenal grew into the game and were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute when Beth Mead was caught by the trailing leg of Michaele Specht. Kim Little stepped up to send the spot-kick past Martina Tufekovic into the bottom right corner.
Goals from Little, Heath, Miedema and Williamson saw them beat Hoffenheim 4-0
Vivianne Miedema has now netted 24 times in her last 17 UEFA competition appearances
Eidevall’s side have scored 19 goals in five league games but their decision-making in the final third was lacking at times in the first 45 minutes. Leah Williamson did well to win the ball back and drive through middle but her through ball to Tobin Heath was just behind the American, who was forced wide before sending a cross into the gloves of Tufekovic.
But the Gunners found their rhythm at the perfect time as a slick team move saw them double their lead just before the break. Vivianne Miedema headed Katie McCabe’s cross down to Heath at the back post and the winger finished on the half-volley into the far corner.
Manuela Zinsberger was called into action at the start of the second half as substitute Gia Corley fired a fierce effort goalwards, but the Arsenal ‘keeper was equal to it.
Miedema and McCabe (above) were all responsible for providing assists on Thursday night
Manager Jonas Eidevall will be delighted considering they lost 4-1 to Barcelona last week
That early warning kicked the hosts back into life and almost immediately they grabbed their third goal. Jordan Nobbs’ curling effort was pushed into the air by Tufekovic and Miedema was on hand to chest the ball into the back of the net from a yard out.
The visitors should have pulled a goal back just past the hour mark when Brand sent in a teasing cross from the left, but Sarai Linder could only put her header over the bar.
Hoffenheim would have been worthy of a goal with Brand in particular putting in an impressive performance at Meadow Park. First her deflected shot was tipped away by Zinsberger. Linder then had a header cleared off the line before Zinsberger denied Brand again with another smart stop.
In the end it was the home side who found another goal before the final whistle. McCabe’s corner found Williamson at the near post and the centre back powered a bullet header past Tufekovic.
The result puts Arsenal second in Group C, three points behind leaders Barca.