Defending champions Arsenal get off to a winning start

Reigning Women’s Super League champions Arsenal got the new season off to a winning start start as they narrowly beat a spirited West Ham.

Beth Mead put Arsenal ahead with a fine 18-yard strike into the bottom corner.

Debutant Jill Roord made it 2-0 as she fired the ball in first time from Mead’s clever lay-off.

But the Hammers hit back through Martha Thomas’ header while France striker Kenza Dali twice hit the woodwork in a tense final 10 minutes.

The Gunners were without last season’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema, who was nursing a slight hamstring injury, with Mead occupying her role at the point of the Arsenal attack.

Having had the better of the first half Arsenal’s Danielle van de Donk swept the ball over the bar from five yards out seconds after the restart as Arsenal, who now face Fiorentina in the Champions League on Thursday, looked as though they would dominate.

But West Ham got back into the game after Thomas scored and could have been level by the end.

Dali had a free-kick strike the post after deflecting off the wall with 12 minutes to go, while a mix-up between Katie McCabe and goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger saw the Austrian pick up the Irish defender’s pass and Dali struck the crossbar from the resulting indirect free-kick.

The match also saw the return of Jordan Nobbs as the England and Arsenal midfielder came on in the second half for her first competitive game since suffering a serious knee ligament injury last November which forced her to miss this summer’s World Cup.

She almost marked her appearance with a goal when her effort from the edge of the box drifted just wide.

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