Arsenal eventually ran out 3-0 winners against Danish side Koge in the Women’s Champions League to all but guarantee their progress to the knockout stages with games to spare.
Caitlin Foord struck in the first half, before late goals from Lotte Wubben-Moy and Vivianne Miedema prevented what could have been a nervy finish on a frustrating night.
With Koge defending resolutely, Arsenal struggled to unlock the game for large periods of the contest. The Gunners dominated the ball in their own half and midfield but were struggling to make the telling breakthrough in the final third.
Foord’s opening goal came relatively early, a close-range tap in for the Australian forward after a precision low cross from Beth Mead on the left. But a combination of Koge’s defensive work and Arsenal’s own lacking quality meant they struggled to build on that lead.
Miedema had been rested from the start but appeared from the bench for the final 25 minutes and instantly became the best player on the pitch, giving her team obvious additional quality and attacking impetus. She could have scored before she did but for a last ditch defensive interception from Koge’s Isabella Obaze.
The nature of the narrow lead left Arsenal vulnerable and when Koge did create a first clear chance with less than 15 minutes remaining, goalkeeper Lydia Williams had to be sharp to keep it out.
Koge’s resistance finally broke in the closing stages. Wubben-Moy powered a bullet header into the net to settle the result, before Miedema capped off a wonderful cameo to make it 3-0 late on.
Arsenal player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Lydia Williams (GK) - 7/10 - Mostly a spectator but made an absolutely crucial save to preserve the lead with less than 15 minutes to play.
Anna Patten (RB) - 6/10 - Willingness to get forward and attack but lacking some quality in the final third.
Lotte Wubben-Moy (CB) - 7/10 - Saw a lot of the ball as Koge sat off. Got the crucial second goal with a powerful header.
Jennifer Beattie (CB) - 6/10 - Landmark 50th European appearance.
Katie McCabe (LB) - 6/10 - Had delivered some teasing crosses shortly before coming off and was starting to look more dangerous.
Lia Walti (CM) - 7/10 - Impressive vision and passing in the centre of midfield. Dropped into the back four for the final half hour.
Jordan Nobbs (CM) - 5/10 - Not the kind of truly incisive impact she would have hoped for here.
Kim Little (CM) - 5/10 - Arsenal looked better when she was able to break the lines between midfield and attack. Probably didn't go enough of it.
Nikita Parris (RW) - 5/10 - Moments of positive impact were too sparse.
Caitlin Foord (ST) - 6/10 - Standing in for Vivianne Miedema and got the crucial breakthrough in the six-yard box. Disappointly quiet after that.
Beth Mead (LW) - 7/10 - Two assists on the night. Looked better and more dangerous in general once Miedema had come on.
Frida Maanum (CM) - 6/10 - Slotted into the central midfield role Walti was doing.
Vivianne Miedema (ST) - 8/10 - Instantly added a degree of extra class and energy off the bench. Needed rest but Arsenal are so much better with her.
Steph Catley (LB) - 6/10 - Like for like replacement for McCabe. Tried to spread and stretch the pitch and created the third for Miedema.