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Olympiques Lyon Women vs Arsenal Women. Women's Champions League Group C.

Stade des LumieresAttendance8,012.

Olympiques Lyon Women 1

  • M Malard (27th minute)

Arsenal Women 5

  • C Foord (13th minute, 67th minute)
  • F Maanum (22nd minute)
  • B Mead (46th minute, 69th minute)

Lyon Women 1-5 Arsenal Women: Champions League holders torn apart by impressive Gunners in France

Arsenal send strong Champions League statement with a 5-1 thrashing of holders Lyon; Manager Jonas Eidevall: "I think it's the best performance that I've seen the team give"; Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord both scored twice; Frida Maanum was also on the scoresheet for the visitors

Frida Maanum celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal vs Lyon
Image: Frida Maanum celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal vs Lyon

Arsenal made a spectacular start to their Women's Champions League campaign by crushing holders Lyon 5-1 in France on Wednesday night.

England forward Beth Mead, who was named runner-up for the women's Ballon d'Or on Monday, scored twice as Arsenal delivered an immediate and emphatic statement of European intent.

Lyon had no answer as Arsenal swept them aside through first-half goals from Caitlin Foord, Frida Maanum and Mead.

Arsenal goalscorer Beth Mead celebrates with team-mate Kim Little
Image: Arsenal goalscorer Beth Mead celebrates with team-mate Kim Little

Foord and Mead then added further goals during a two-minute spell in the second half to leave Lyon in disarray as they suffered just a second loss in their last 83 home games. It marks the first time the eight-time European champions have conceded five goals since May 2005, and Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall described the win as the "best performance" he has seen from the team.

Arsenal carried the confidence generated by an unbeaten start to their Women's Super League campaign with them into Europe. It put them immediately on the front foot in a group that also includes Juventus and Zurich, as Arsenal chase a second Champions League title - 15 years after the first.

The Gunners enjoyed a stunning opening at Stade des Lumieres, rocking their hosts with two goals in the first 22 minutes.

Foord struck the opener following quality approach work by Mead, then Maanum's shot made it 2-0 as Lyon found themselves well and truly on the back foot.

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Although Melvine Malard cut the deficit after 27 minutes, Arsenal secured a 3-1 interval lead when Mead's free-kick found the net and gave the defending champions a mountain to climb.

Lyon had no way back, as the contest turned into a rout with Foord and Mead completing an Arsenal procession.

Eidevall: Our best performance

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall speaking to the club's website

"I think it's the best performance that I've seen the team give, both on and off the ball. The belief and the quality that we had in the game plan was very, very high, so I'm really proud of the players.

"We were very efficient in the game, we were effective. But we've worked so hard to get those margins. We won so many balls in dangerous areas but we also moved the ball very well out from the back under pressure and waited for the right moments to go in behind. So all the goals have a special place in my mind.

"They knew not to be passive, but to travel together and be really compact in the areas we wanted to be in. That requires some bravery; it requires not being able to cover some other areas of the pitch but the payoff was huge."

Analysis: A win of epic proportions

Sky Sports' Charlotte Marsh:

It's almost hard to communicate the magnitude of this victory for Arsenal. Lyon have been the European powerhouse in women's football for a number of years - it's the place to go if you want to win a Champions League.

They have won six of the last seven titles, and are the reigning champions after beating Barcelona 3-1 in the May final. Eyebrows would have been raised - or even mopped - when Arsenal were tasked with trying to make their way past Lyon in the Champions League group stages.

Ahead of the game, Caitlin Foord said: "For us, it will be the biggest challenge we've faced yet. So if we can get a win and a good performance, it will be massive for us moving forward."

That win has materialised in the most stunning of fashions. Despite what they may say publicly, Arsenal would have easily taken a draw because 5-1 defeats for Lyon at home in Europe simply do not happen. Except now, it has.

Both sides had injury absentees too - Lyon missing a whole host of stars, including Ada Hegerberg and Sara Dabritz - while Arsenal were without first-choice centre-back pairing Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza.

Jonas Eidevall also made the bold choice to start Frida Maanum over Vivianne Miedema. However, it paid off as Maanum picked up a goal and assist for the evening's work. Even the best strikers need to rotate.

But there was no huge celebration from Arsenal at full-time. Yes, it is a win of epic proportions against the best team in Europe, but it is only the first game of the Champions League group stages. The Gunners will still have to face Lyon at the Emirates and they are expected to have some of their injury absentees back in action, plus let's not forget Juventus.

The Italian side are led by former Arsenal coach Joe Montemurro and will also have aspirations to go far in the Champions League this season. There is a long way to go before anyone reaches the knockout rounds - although being knocked out at the group stages would be a catastrophic failure for Lyon.

However, there's no denying that this absolutely sets Arsenal up as the group favourites and lays down a marker for the rest of the competition. It also proves their unbeaten start to the WSL season is by no means a fluke and they can perform despite injuries.

The Gunners will be hoping they can keep exceeding expectations all the way until May.

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