Two-time World Cup winner Tobin Heath opened his Champions League account as Arsenal beat German side Hoffenheim 4–0 to earn their first three points in Group C.
A Kim Little penalty and Heath’s strike shortly before the break, the US forward making his second start for the Gunners after joining the summer, gave Arsenal a commanding lead despite a bright start from the visiting team. Striker Vivian Miedema held a third and centre-back Leah Williamson in fourth.
Hoffenheim may be an unfamiliar team to Arsenal players, but the German side has been on the radar of new manager Jonas Eidevall, who faced them in a Champions League qualifier while manager of Swedish side Rosengard.
He warned before his team’s second group game, “They will try to shoot long distances and they have succeeded.” “They are very consistent in the way they play so you need to be compact around the ball.
“It’s about a central, counter pressing style of play. Counter pressing moments will be what decide the game and how well we handle it and how they execute it.”
The Gunners were “humbled” according to Beth Mead, who was named WSL Player of the Month for September this week. The team lost 4-1 For defending European champions Barcelona in their Group C opener. a 3-0 win over Everton Somehow went to boost the excitement but despite the early stages of the tournament it was vitally important to get points on the board in the new group stage.
The home team was certainly more cautious in the opening exchange with Hoffenheim, who are fifth in the Frauen Bundesliga, perhaps a little too cautious, as it was the visiting team that should have taken the lead early in a crisp Borehamwood.
Arsenal’s back line rattled after only three minutes when a cross from the left was nod to Nicole Billa, but the Austrian striker turned and fired wide.
The threat didn’t stop, the tall and powerful Belgian centre-forward Tyne de Cagney and Billa looked particularly dangerous when played back and Hoffenheim looked quick in possession.
Arsenal developed into a game urged by an outspoken Borehamwood crowd and, just shy of the 15-minute mark, Heath took off from the left wing before sending a clean backwheel into the feet of Jordan Nobbs, which forced a corner.
With the momentum temporarily swinging more strongly on Arsenal’s way, left-back Katie McCabe fired a free-kick from the right around the short Hoffenheim wall, on which goalkeeper Martina Tufekovic fell but nearly stumbled .
Where Hoffenheim struggled to capitalize on their turnovers, doing well to take advantage of the too-frequent wayward Arsenal passing, the hosts were more clinical.
In the 20th minute she took the lead after centre-back Michaela Specht biting Mead’s raised leg, which had stumbled in front of her, and referee Stephanie Frappert pointed to the spot. Stepping up was Captain Little who fired on the right side of the diving Tufekovic to score his 40th European goal for Arsenal.
Taking the lead, Arsenal increased their control of the game, and shortly before the half-time whistle, Edewall’s team were rewarded for their pressure. McCabe hits the ball from the left side and Miedema rises to the top and points to the feet of an offensive Heath, who shatters him into the net.
The two-time World Cup winner was making his first Champions League debut since October 2013, having played in the competition during a six-month spell with Paris Saint-Germain, out of competition at the hands of Swedish side Tyreso on two legs. It was done .
Eight years into the second half, Hoffenheim manager Gabor Gallai swapped De Cagney, twice-goaler in the previous round, for 19-year-old Gia Corelli, but the game continued to drift away from the German side. The hosts extended their lead to three shortly after the restart when Mead ran right down the aisle before cutting back to Nobbs, the England midfielder forcing an acrobatic save from Tufekovic, but The goalkeeper could only force it higher and Miedema pounced on the rebound.
Hoffenheim fought hard to get a goal back, goalkeeper Manuela Ginsberger was forced to save from Joule Brand and McCabe pulled Sarai Linder’s header off the line.
With three points but the safe Edewall out his front three, it was Williamson, not fresh feet in front who would provide a fourth on the nearest post for power in McCabe’s corner.
The win helped Arsenal move their opponents to second place in Group C, with the German side level on three points, but three behind leaders Barcelona, who surprisingly took on Danish side HB Koge earlier in the evening. Won 2-0.