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Beth Mead bags brace as Arsenal secure Champions League football for next season
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Beth Mead opened the scoring for Arsenal in the first half (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)
Beth Mead opened the scoring for Arsenal in the first half (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)

Beth Mead scored in each half as Arsenal secured the final Champions League spot with a comprehensive 3-0 Super League victory over Leicester at the Emirates Stadium.

Mead struck in the 28th minute to open the scoring before completing her brace with 12 minutes remaining, while – in between – Alessia Russo netted her eighth of the season, a well-worked team goal to contribute to the Foxes’ collapse.

Norway defender Frida Maanum returned to the Arsenal team for the first time since she collapsed in the League Cup final last month.

With Manchester United dropping points in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham earlier in the afternoon, Sunday’s result means Arsenal clinched third place and European football for next season.

There were moments of opportunity for both sides, with the midfield battle controlling the tempo and chances. Gunners forward Stina Blackstenius barrelled down on goal after a squandered Leicester corner, but Mead could not get the shot away in the box.

Yuka Momiki then came close with an ambitious long-range strike, forcing a big save from Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

Mead broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark after Caitlin Foord laid the ball off perfectly in the box.

Arsenal’s defence was ensuring their lead stayed intact after several opportunities on the counter fell to their opponents’ ruthless and fast-paced attack.

Twelve minutes after the break, Foord had a chance to double the hosts’ lead but her shot from close range went straight to Foxes’ goalkeeper Lize Kop, making it an easy stop for the Netherlands international.

Moments later, Emily Fox forced another save from Kop as her well-timed strike from the edge of the area looked to be curling into the top corner.

Substitute Maanum made her much-anticipated return to the pitch in the 65th minute, welcomed back by a standing ovation and roars of support from the bustling Emirates crowd.

Arsenal then scored twice in quick succession to seal their triumph.

Steph Catley tore through the centre of the pitch after winning the ball back to set up Russo, who slotted home the Gunners’ second.

Russo then missed a chance to add a third minutes later, but England compatriot Mead was there to slot home Arsenal’s third.

Vivianne Miedema also returned for the Gunners after a period of absence following her recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury last year.

While the Foxes had several chances at the end of the afternoon, they lacked the clinical finishing that was needed to net a consolation goal and they remain 10th.


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