Vivianne Miedema applies finishing touch to earn Arsenal point at Juventus | Women’s Champions League

This was a well-balanced encounter as Arsenal were held to a draw by Juventus. Closely matched throughout, the Gunners had to battle from a goal down to maintain their unbeaten European record this season. The influential Lineth Beerensteyn put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute before Vivianne Miedema hit back, heading home to ensure her side earned a valuable point.

As soon as these two sides were drawn together back in October, there was an extra weight added to this fixture. Fondly dubbed the “Joe Montemurro derby” by fans, this was the first time the former Arsenal manager was coming up against his old side and their new manager, Jonas Eidevall. Having spent almost four years at the helm in north London, the Australian departed for a new challenge in 2021, having previously led the Gunners to a first WSL title in seven years.

Football, as always, moves on, and Montemurro and Eidevall are building with their new clubs. Arsenal have impressed in this Champions League campaign, but they arrived in Turin after falling to their first loss of the season and with their injury worries mounting. Beth Mead was the latest to be added to the list having suffered a significant ACL injury against Manchester United at the weekend. Her absence brought Miedema into the starting lineup in her now customary role in the pocket behind Stina Blackstenius.

Juventus, meanwhile, went into this fixture two points behind their opponents in Group C and knowing that victory would massively bolster their chances of progression. Things are not going entirely their way this season – they are second in Serie A behind high-flying Roma. The Italian champions were also without the midfield stalwart Sara Gunnarsdottir but were bolstered when their captain, Cecilia Salvai, was declared fit.

Lineth Beerensteyn fires home to give Juventus the lead against Arsenal.
Lineth Beerensteyn fires home to give Juventus the lead against Arsenal. Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Arsenal started brightly, enjoying the space the expansive pitch provided. Jordan Nobbs and Frida Maanum were able to influence play while Caitlin Foord’s running and delivery from the left provided a productive outlet. Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, also formerly of Arsenal, had to be alert in goal when Blackstenius broke through the defensive lines on multiple occasions. The Sweden forward should have been more clinical, in particular when she was set away by Maanum only to direct her shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Juventus offered their own threat with the pace of Beerensteyn causing Arsenal problems. The hosts finished the half on the front foot and should have gone in ahead: just before the break Arianna Caruso found herself unmarked in the box but sent her header wide.

The temperature may have dropped as the teams re-emerged, but Juventus were determined to turn up the heat. They bided their time, remaining compact in the face of Arsenal possession before taking the lead. The electric Beerensteyn had provided the backline with enough warnings and finally made them pay when she broke on to Cristiana Girelli’s defence-splitting pass and fired clinically past Manuela Zinsberger. A roar reverberated around the stadium, as more than 8,000 supporters cheered with delight.

Juventus had the wind in their sails, but Eidevall’s Arsenal can never be discounted. They have shown plenty of grit this season, and here they battled hard to draw level. Miedema, always one for the big occasions, rose highest in the box to meet a pinpoint Frida Maanum corner. Towering over Julia Grosso and protected by Lotte Wubben-Moy, she glanced a header home to level.

The equaliser caused Eidevall to shuffle his pack with the limited options he had available. Jen Beattie was brought in to offer aerial solidity with Katie McCabe pushing further upfield. The final quarter, however, was a stuttering encounter with niggling fouls and substitutions disrupting the flow. Neither goalkeeper was really troubled as the game drew to a close and the points were shared.

Arsenal will travel homeperhaps the happier of the two. A draw away from home in this competition is no mean feat and they maintain their cushion at the top of Group C. They will host the same opposition at the Emirates in a fortnight time, a stage that they will feel gives them the advantage as they look to secure progression to the next stage.

Chelsea in control of group after Ingle and Cuthbert sink Real Madrid | Football

Erin Cuthbert had said: “People say I only score bangers and it’s actually annoying – I want to score tap‑ins as well, I want to be known as a goalscorer,” after her stunning strike against Tottenham on Sunday. However the Scottish forward, who last week signed a new contract with Chelsea, fired in from wide to ensure the Blues extended their lead at the top of Group A in the Women’s Champions League with a 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid – and enhanced her reputation for stylish goals.

“She was outstanding,” said Emma Hayes. “I don’t think there was a blade of grass she didn’t cover. There was a tenacity to her performance that we’ve all come to expect.”

There were three changes to the Chelsea side that beat Tottenham 3-0 on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, with Niamh Charles on in place of France’s Ève Périssett, Canada’s Olympic gold-medal winner Jessie Fleming shifted to the bench to make way for Fran Kirby, and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd favoured over Lauren James.

The biggest blow came on Tuesday, though, with the news that the influential forward Pernille Harder had undergone surgery following a hamstring injury picked up on international duty.

For Real, Athenea del Castillo – the goalscorer in their 1-0 away win at Sporting Huelva on Saturday – was on the bench, Misa Rodríguez returned in goal in place of France’s Méline Gérard, while Maite Oroz, Freja Olofsson, Naomie Feller and Esther González all started after sitting out at the weekend.

In Hayes’s first game at Kingsmeadow after her emergency hysterectomy following a lengthy struggle with endometriosis, Chelsea started brightly, and – after some nice work from Sam Kerr – Kirby collected and forced a save from Rodríguez in the fourth minute.

Sophie Ingle heads home to give Chelsea the lead over Real Madrid.

Sophie Ingle heads home to give Chelsea the lead after Erin Cuthbert’s corner was flicked on by Millie Bright. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Despite the quick start, there was little to separate the two sides, neither of which had conceded a goal in Group A. Victory would give Chelsea a chance to stretch five points clear of Real and Paris Saint-Germain at the group’s midway point, while the Albanian side Vllaznia sit bottom, without a goal or a point, after a 5-0 defeat against PSG in the early kick‑off. But despite the chance to really take control of the group, Hayes’s side struggled to create clear goalscoring opportunities.

The Real Madrid manager, Alberto Toril, said before kick-off that his team were “going to fight and make life difficult” and they did just that, stifling service to Kerr, Kirby and the subdued Rytting Kaneryd. The latter was substituted in place of James, while Kirby made way for Fleming around the hour as Hayes attempted to inject some energy into an increasingly soul-sucking half of football.

Chelsea were forced to rely on a set‑piece to break through in the 68th minute, with Cuthbert’s corner from the right headed on at the near post by Millie Bright and turned in by the head of Ingle at the back. It was a rocket the crowd and players sorely needed.

The first goal was swiftly followed by the second and it was also Cuthbert’s second screamer in two games. Her cross-cum-shot flew into the net from the right to give her team a two-goal cushion.

“That’s a secret,” Cuthbert said of whether she meant it. “I meant to fire it across the goal and see what happens. It was lucky it came off my boot quite nicely and went over the keeper’s head and in.”

Toril, though, was happy with the progress of his team. “It was a very good game for both teams,” he said. We were quite a similar level, we are a young team, we were against a team that is very mature. We are happy and we were good.”

In the end it was simple for Chelsea, but the game was far from pretty. That is what is so effective about Hayes’s side: regardless of how they play or how long it takes, they get results.

Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder hit hat-tricks as Chelsea dismantle Vllaznia | Women’s Champions League

Chelsea found the free-flowing rhythm that has previously eluded defeat of Albanian champions Vllaznia in the Champions League.

Four goals from Sam Kerr, three from Pernille Harder, one from the substitute Katerina Svitkova and four assists from Guro Reiten on her 100th Chelsea appearance, helped the Blues take control of Group A with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain having drawn 0-0 in the earlier fixture.

Kerr has only scored one goal in the WSL this season but general manager Paul Green, again standing in for the absent Emma Hayes, said there has never been a worry about that. “She’s won the golden boot two seasons in a row and we’ve never had any doubts she would score this season,” he said.

Kerr said: “Obviously I’m paid to score goals but I also think I bring a lot to the team when I’m not scoring too, so it’s just about being patient, getting in my groove, and I did tonight and hopefully I can again against Villa [on Sunday].”

Vllaznia were well supported on a crisp evening at Kingsmeadow, with 420 tickets sold officially to travelling fans but far more of London’s Albanian community showing up to watch their team take on the WSL champions.

The home side naturally dominated from the off: Vllaznia are unlikely to trouble either Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid in Group A. At times the Chelsea players were queuing up to punish the Albanian side and although it only took 10 minutes for the home team to take the lead, it felt like they could already have been four or five up.

The opening goal was sublime, Danish forward Harder playing in Kerr and the Australia international lifting it over the goalkeeper Kaylin Conner Williams-Mosier, one of six Americans in the away team’s squad. The floodgates were open, but Vllaznia had fleeting moments of positive play, with Megi Doci, who scored 66 league goals last season and was playing on the left wing, their brightest outlet.

Sam Kerr celebrates her hat-trick goal against Vllaznia with a backflip.
Sam Kerr celebrates her hat-trick goal against Vllaznia with a backflip. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

There was never any doubt which way the game would go though, and Chelsea hit two in two minutes to extend their lead and improve their goal difference in a group that could prove to be tight. First, Reiten breezed past the right-back Aleksandra Popovic and delivered for Kerr who fired in from close range. Then Reiten provided again from the left, this time for Harder to turn in.

Vllaznia had only got past qualifying once in 11 attempts before this season, and the draw delivered the glamour ties many of their players had been dreaming of. Lexie Knox, who played college football alongside the Manchester City forward Khadija Shaw in the US, told Goal that playing against Sam Kerr “would be an honour”.

At times you could be forgiven for thinking the Vllaznia players just wanted to stand back and watch their heroes, but that would be harsh: they just couldn’t keep up. There were two changes at half-time, with Popovic one of those hooked, saved from any more embarrassment at the hands, or feet, of Reiten.

Just before the hour mark it was three for Kerr, with the forward rising highest to meet Reiten’s corner to head in. Three minutes later and she had a fourth, with Reiten cutting back from the left and Kerr firing in before celebrating with a backflip. Then it was six, with Harder poking over the line.

The seventh was as easy as the preceding six, with Svitkova sending her fellow substitute Alsu Abdullina’s cross in with a powerful header for her first Chelsea goal.

The visiting Albanian fans remained in fine voice, with play paused late on as the flares which accompanied their constant chanting were thrown on to the pitch, shrouding the Chelsea goal in mist. Unfortunately for the visiting fans this was the most dramatic action Chelsea’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic would see all night.

“Maybe they got a little bit carried away throwing things on to the pitch but in the main they added to a great atmosphere,” said Green.

There was time for one more thrust forward and Harder got her hat-trick from it, tapping in a loose ball from close range. Chelsea needed this emphatic win, regardless of the opponent. It was a reminder of what they can do, a reminder for the fans and for themselves.

Millie Bright brings Chelsea and Emma Hayes cheer after downing PSG | Women’s Champions League

Captain Magdalena Eriksson had said Chelsea wanted to “make things right” after their group stage exit from the Champions League last season and the Blues got off to a good start in Paris with a 1-0 defeat of Paris Saint-Germain to kickstart their new campaign.

It wasn’t the slickest of performances, but Millie Bright’s first half goal was enough to give Chelsea victory in a feisty encounter, inflicting a second defeat in two days on France’s two sides in the competition, with Arsenal having beaten champions Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday night.

The crowd may have been small, but it was vocal, with 800 PSG ultras, drums out, dancing and singing as one, with many shirtless despite the constant rain. Sat in the shadows of PSG’s Parc des Princes, the Stade Jean-Bouin has a capacity of 20,000, is the home of rugby union side Stade Français.

The biggest absence from Emma Hayes’s squad for their opening group stage fixture was Fran Kirby, who was omitted from the bench as well as the start XI due to illness. The most notable absence though, was Hayes herself.

Still recovering from an emergency hysterectomy, Hayes has handed the reins to her assistant Denise Reddy and general manager Paul Green.

For PSG, Lieke Martens was out of action for the evening, while Marie-Antoinette Katoto remains absent after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament during the Euros.

ParisHome manager Gérard Prêcheur described the Champions League group stage tie with Chelsea as a “beautiful fixture” ahead of kick-off. “We do this job to play games like these,” he said. “We cannot wait to get started but we cannot rush anything. We have to prepare well, but it is true that it is a great fixture and this group stage format is magnificent to play in.”

The match action didn’t quite live up to the billing. Perhaps due to the conditions, neither team could find their rhythm in a scrappy and bitty first half, but Chelsea had the brighter of the few infrequent chances.

After 12 minutes Guro Reiten’s free-kick failed to beat the wall but the visiting side worked it back in and Sam Kerr was able to force goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi into a fine save from her fierce effort.

Magdalena Eriksson beats PSG goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi to the ball but heads wide
Magdalena Eriksson (right) beats PSG goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi to the ball but heads wide. Photograph: Dave Winter/Shutterstock

Just before the half hour mark Chelsea made the breakthrough. Erin Cuthbert’s corner was cleared back to her on the left and the Scotland forward pinged it to the back post where Bright was waiting to side-foot in on the volley.

It was Bright’s third Champions League goal. This game was also the third meeting of the two teams in the Champions League, with Chelsea having played PSG over two legs of the quarter finals in 2018-19. Then, Hayes’s side were triumphant, beating the French side 2-0 at home before suffering a 2-1 defeat in the return fixture and progressing to the last-four on aggregate.

Last season, Chelsea failed to escape the “group of death” with Wolfsburg and Juventus progressing on the basis of head-to-head goal difference after all three teams finished on 11 points apiece.

Chelsea’s group is similarly intimidating this time round, with PSG and Real Madrid, who eliminated Manchester City in qualifying for the group stage, both vying with the WSL champions for two places in the knockout rounds, and Albania’s Vllaznia completing the group line-up. Real defeated the Albanian side 2-0 earlier on Thursdaylast night

After the break in the Stade Jean-Bouin, the narrative didn’t shift despite the home side trailing. It took until the 62nd minute for the French side to register a shot on target, and when it finally came it was tame, Kadidiatou Diani shot easily saved by Ann-Katrin Berger.

That would prove to be PSG’s only shot on target. For Chelsea, it was not pretty but it was job done, and with Vllaznia at home next Wednesday there is a chance for Hayes’s side to build some momentum in the competition.

Arsenal stun defending WCL champions Lyon with historic five-star humbling | Women’s Champions League

The Arsenal manager, Jonas Eidevall, had said that the team’s Champions League group stage opener against the reigning champions, Lyon, would be a “reality check to see where we’re at.”

The small contingent of travelling Gunners fans could be forgiven for thinking they had stepped into an alternate reality: where they were “at” was in seventh heaven, as the Ballon d’Or runner-up, Beth Mead, and Australian forward Caitlin Foord both scored twice in a 5-1 demolition of the tournament’s most successful side.

It was the first time Lyon had lost by a four-goal margin since April 2006 and the first time that they had conceded five since 2005.

Sonia Bompastor, the Lyon manager, said her team had not been “killers” or “efficient” against a team “as good as Arsenal,” adding that her side needed to analyse and focus on the lessons they can learn from the bruising defeat.

“Many players remain off and we need to cope with that,” she said of a hefty injury list. “We need to draw the lessons, analyse and from the mental side we need to build trust to beat Juventus next week.”

After navigating qualifying, there were fears for Arsenal when they were placed in Group C with Lyon, a fast-developing Juventus side managed by the former Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro and the Swiss champions, FC Zürich.

“It is a special night”, said Eidevall after the win in France. “We were very effective tonight, but as I told the players after, they worked extremely hard to carry out the gameplan and looked after the details, when you do that sometimes these things happen.

“You’re not entitled to play like this every game you play, it starts with your preparation, with the way you train, with the belief in the gameplan and you have to do that every game, nothing comes for free in football, you’re not entitled to anything.”

Quick Guide

Roundup: Barcelona thrash Benfica 9-0


Barcelona, last year’s beaten finalists, laid down a marker for their rivals with an 9-0 demolition of Benfica in their opening Group D game. Asisat Oshoala [centre] and the Brazilian forward Geyse both scored twice, with five of their teammates also on the scoresheet in Catalonia.

The hosts took the lead inside the first minute, with Oshoala crossing for Patri Guijarro to fire home. The Nigeria forward got another assist in the 14th minute, her nod-down finding Aitana Bonmatí who finished clinically. Oshola got on the scoresheet with a shot from distance as Barça ended the first half 3-0 up.

Mariona Caldentey made it four in the 50th minute, before turning provider with a cross for Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, who was replaced by Geyse after scoring. The former Benfica player struck from Guijarro’s pass to make it six, then crossed from Clàudia Pina to slot home. Oshoala and Geyse added late goals against tiring opponents in front of 5,000 fans at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.

It was a different story for the other heavyweight side in Group D, Bayern Munich, who fought from a goal down to edge out Rosengård 2-1. Loreta Kullashi headed the Swedish vistors in front from a corner, but Carolin Simon’s attempted cross flew into the net to bring Bayern level. The hosts got the winner in the 57th minute, Linda Dallman turning in the rebound after Jovana Damnjanovic’s header was saved.

In Group C, Juventus were made to work for a 2-0 away win by Zürich, who held on until the 71st minute despite the visitors’ dominance. Valentina Cernoia made the breakthrough for Juve, firing through the keeper’s legs after a goalmouth scramble. Barbara Bonansea fired home in the 85th minute to secure victory for Juve, who will host Lyon in the second round of games.

Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images Europe

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Arsenal had not managed a single win against a French team in Europe prior to their trip to Lyon. In eight matches against Ligue 1 teams, the Gunners had lost six times and drawn twice.

In front of a disappointingly small crowd of 8,012 at the Groupama Stadium, Bompastor made several changes, but Lyon were able to field a very strong starting XI regardless.

Eidevall has his own injury worries, with the England captain, Leah Williamson, and her first-choice centre-back partner, Rafaelle Souza, both out. Vivianne Miedema was on the bench and the scorer of Arsenal’s second, Frida Maanum, who Eidevall would describe as “brilliant” after the match, was on in her place.

Beth Mead with Arsenal’s contingent of travelling fans after the game.
Beth Mead with Arsenal’s contingent of travelling fans after the game. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

It took 13 minutes for the Gunners to deliver the first blow, and they deserved their lead. The captain, Kim Little, released Mead into space on the right and the forward delivered a neat cross for Foord to convert at the back post.

Ten minutes later, Arsenal doubled their lead, the forward Stina Blackstenius darting in from the left and forcing a fine save from the outstretched foot of Christiane Endler, but Maanum was there to side-foot in the rebound.

The makeshift central defensive partnership of Lotte Wubben-Moy and Steph Catley would fall short not long after when Lindsey Horan turned a corner off the crossbar with her thigh and Melvine Malard pounced quickest to poke in from close range, but it was a blip in an overall strong showing.

By half-time Eidevall’s side had restored their two-goal cushion. The Lyon captain, Wendie Renard, was penalised for a foul on Blackstenius and Mead swept the resulting free-kick around the wall and past Endler, who got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.

If there were any fiery words said in the home dressing room at half-time in a bid to up the intensity of the team’s performance, there was little evidence of it on the pitch after the break, with Arsenal gifted space all over.

They were rewarded for their dominance in the 67th minute when Foord intercepted a rogue pass from Renard across the front of the box before blasting past Endler. A minute later it was five, with Maanum releasing Mead and the Euro 2022 golden boot winner sweeping home.

Did they fear Lyon? “We were actually quite chilled about the game,” said Mead. “There was no expectation on us this evening, and sometimes you can relish in those moments.” Now, they will have to manage sky-high expectations.

Women’s Champions League: Arsenal face Lyon, Chelsea in group with PSG | Women’s Champions League

Arsenal and Chelsea will have their work cut out to progress from the group stage of the Women’s Champions League after being handed unenviable assignments on Monday.

Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal play the holders, Lyon, along with the Italian champions, Juventus and Zürich, and Emma Hayes’s side face Real Madrid, Paris Saint-German and the Albanian club Vllaznia. Lyon, who beat Barcelona 3-1 in last season’s final, have won the Champions League eight times and will offer a tricky Group C challenge for Arsenal, quarter-finalists last season when they bowed out to Wolfsburg.

If the north London side’s reunion with Joe Montemurro, their former manager now in charge of Juventus, could also prove challenging, Chelsea’s task looks similarly awkward.

Group A will involve Hayes’s WSL title holders meeting a Madrid ensemble who, with Scotland’s Caroline Weir impressing, eliminated Manchester City in a qualifying round this summer, and PSG, who despite being riven with internal problems were semi-finalists last season.

Chelsea will be particularly keen to be one of the two teams to progress from their group to the quarter-finals after elimination in last season’s group stage.

Group D – Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Rosengård and Benfica – features intriguing contests between three former Manchester City teammates: England’s Barcelona-domiciled Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh and their fellow Lioness Georgia Stanway, now with Bayern.

The remaining group – B – comprises Wolfsburg, Slavia Prague, the Austrian club St Pölten and Roma. Matches will take place between 19 October and 22 December and the final is scheduled for Eindhoven’s PSV Stadion on 3 or 4 June.

Should Arsenal or Chelsea get that far they will have done it the hard way in a competition in which British clubs have traditionally failed to flourish. Chelsea reached the 2021 final, losing to Barcelona, but no British side have won the Champions League since Arsenal’s solitary success in 2007.