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Arsenal 3-1 Man Utd: Record sell-out helps hosts to big win
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Rachel Steinberg
Press Association
Arsenal’s Kim Little celebrates scoring from the penalty spot (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)
Arsenal’s Kim Little celebrates scoring from the penalty spot (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)

Arsenal tightened their grip on a return to the Champions League with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in front of a Women’s Super League record sell-out at the Emirates.

The Gunners, who sold 60,160 tickets for the lunchtime contest, were gifted an early goal when Katie McCabe's corner deflected in off Geyse.

Another error allowed Cloe Lacasse to nod in a second and Kim Little's spot-kick made it three before the break.

Lucia Garcia clawed one back in stoppage time but it was little consolation for fourth-placed United, who are now seven points adrift of qualifying for a second European campaign with just eight games remaining.

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall made six changes, dropping forward Alessia Russo to the bench while Leah Williamson was absent due to what the club described as a “minor hamstring injury” less than a month after returning from the ACL injury that led to nine months out. 

It was a nervy start for the hosts, who conceded a an early free-kick that was spilled by goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo. 

The Gunners won their first corner three minutes later but it was punched away by England international Mary Earps in the United goal.

However, it did not take long for the breakthrough to come courtesy of their second corner. 

With 10 minutes played, McCabe's corner deflected off the unfortunate Geyse inside the six-yard box before rolling through the legs of a helpless Maya Le Tissier and over the line.

Marc Skinner's side struggled to get anything started in reply, giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position that Beth Mead blasted wide after going directly for goal, while United could not take advantage of a corner after Ella Toone's sharp effort took a deflection off Steph Catley.

The Gunners' second in the 35th minute initially looked to be a missed chance when Victoria Pelova picked out Stina Blackstenius in front of the United goal but her squared pass skipped past the Sweden international towards Katie Zelem, who attempted to hook clear.

The United captain lofted the ball in the direction of Lacasse, who happily headed home her third league goal just three days after bagging a brace in the Conti Cup win over London City Lionesses.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Gemma Evans brought down Mead and Little coolly converted, sending Earps the wrong way with a low finish.

Nikita Parris directed a pair of headers wide before Blackstenius took advantage of some loose defending to intercept Hannah Blundell's pass to Earps, who managed to parry away the attempt.

Mead was then denied by the post twice in quick succession, her first attempt a rocket from the right that would have likely beaten Earps but instead clipped the inside of the woodwork before bouncing out.

D'Angelo comfortably saved Parris' effort at the near post before surviving a scramble, with Catley then replaced by Caitlin Foord as both bosses made changes.

Just as it appeared Eidevall's side would wrap up a clean sheet, D'Angelo came off her line to meet a corner in the sixth minute of added time but Garcia pounced.

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