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West Ham 2-1 Arsenal: Leah's return to starting XI ends in defeat
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Leah Williamson was back in Arsenal's starting line-up for the defeat to West Ham
Leah Williamson was back in Arsenal's starting line-up for the defeat to West Ham

Captain Leah Williamson’s return to the Arsenal starting line-up ended in defeat as West Ham claimed their first-ever Women’s Super League win over the title-chasing Gunners.

Williamson returned from an anterior cruciate ligament injury as a substitute in Arsenal’s Conti Cup victory over Reading late last month, but her first league appearance back as skipper ended in disappointment at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.

Arsenal were leading 1-0 thanks to an Alessia Russo goal when Williamson was replaced at half-time by Amanda Ilestedt, and the England international had to watch on as West Ham turned the game on its head in the second half as goals from Viviane Asseyi and Hawa Cissoko secured a 2-1 win.

As well as being West Ham’s maiden WSL victory over Arsenal, it ended the Gunners’ four-match winning streak in all competitions and was an unexpected blow to their title hopes at the hands of a side who had only won two of their opening 12 games this season.

The visitors almost made a dream start when Vivianne Miedema regained possession off the West Ham backline and threaded a pass that found Russo inside the box, but Hammers defender Cissoko produced a vital interception to keep the England striker at bay.

Arsenal had another chance through the resulting corner but Steph Catley and Miedema were blocked by the home defence, while the loose ball fell to Russo, whose shot was deflected and tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.

The visitors continued to push and came close once again moments later as Emily Fox delivered a dangerous cross which found former Manchester United striker Russo, whose header narrowly went over.

Midway through the first half, Miedema launched a bursting run into the area only to be denied a chance to open the scoring by Honoka Hayashi’s sliding tackle.

Netherlands striker Miedema continued to be a major threat and almost got on the scoresheet when she struck a left-footed shot across goal that rattled the frame of the goal.

However, Arsenal’s pressure finally paid off as they took the lead two minutes before half-time. Catley’s corner found West Ham defender Kirsty Smith, who could only head the ball into the path of Russo for a flick into an empty net.

Rehanne Skinner’s hosts had struggled for opportunities before the break but they were on the front foot at the start of the second half and drew level in the 50th minute

Hayashi delivered a sublime pass into Riko Ueki, who was brought down by Catley inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Asseyi made no mistake from 12 yards, sending her spot-kick into the bottom-left corner as Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger went the wrong way.

That was a major blow for Arsenal having looked in complete control at half-time, but worse was to follow eight minutes later when West Ham took the lead.

France defender Cissoko steered home a loose ball after Zinsberger failed to deal with Emma Snerle’s free-kick.

The Gunners immediately responded with a swift counter-attack when substitute Cloe Lacasse crossed the ball into the box and picked out Russo, but she could only hit the post in search of an equaliser.

In stoppage time, Jonas Eidevall’s visitors still pressed for a leveller as Fox delivered a long cross into the penalty area and Stina Blackstenius’ low effort forced Arnold into a smart save with her legs as West Ham held on to secure all three points.


Arsenal WomenWest Ham United WomenWomen's Super LeagueLeah Williamson
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