Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa: Stunning injury-time comeback seals Gunners’ first win of season

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

For so long this looked like being an afternoon of frustration for Arsenal, but instead it will go down as one that’ll live long in the memory.

Jonas Eidevall had talked this week about making Emirates Stadium a fortress and the place where the women’s side play all their home games.

Well, matches like this one against Aston Villa will only strengthen that argument as Arsenal scored twice in injury-time to claim a 2-1 Women’s Super League victory.

There were just over 35,000 fans at the Emirates to see it, but such was the roar for Alessia Russo’s winner you would have thought it was full.

On the balance of play it was no more than Arsenal deserved and what made it even sweeter for Eidevall was that Beth Mead assisted the winner.

The forward was thrown on in the 88th minute, making her first appearance in 330 days after injuring her knee, with the Gunners 1-0 down and staring down the barrel of a third straight Women’s Super League game without a win.

Six minutes later, they were ahead. Katie McCabe got Arsenal level with a fine finish from a tight angle on the left.

Two minutes after that, Russo struck. Mead skipped past a defender on the edge of the box and set it for Russo. It was far from the finest hit from the England striker and Villa goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar will be frustrated it squirmed under her.

Van Domselaar had summed up Villa’s spirit before that, with a defiant display in goal to keep Arsenal at bay. They had looked on course to claim all three points before Arsenal’s late show, with Mayumi Pacheco putting them ahead midway through the first-half.

It was a poor goal for the Gunners to concede, with Pacheco left completely unmarked from a corner and able to head home. The effort was Villa’s first shot on target and a rare blip during a first-half that Arsenal otherwise dominated.

It was the same in the second-half and, when Caitlin Foord struck the post just after the hour mark, Eidevall must have feared lady luck wasn’t on his side. Arsenal were throwing at everything at Villa, but they could not find a way through as the visitors dug in.

Finally, in injury-time, the dam broke. McCabe scored two minutes into the 12 added on and, from there, it felt like there was only one winner.

Stina Blackstenius should have scored seconds later, when Mead played her in, but the woodwork denied her. It mattered not, as Mead again conjured some magic moments later to tee up Russo.

A first win of the season for Arsenal and their campaign now, well and truly, has lift-off.