A Frida Maanum hat-trick helped Arsenal comfortably ensure they progressed to the Champions League quarter finals as group winners with a 9-1 win over Zurich in their final group stage fixture on Wednesday evening.
The Gunners had already sealed their safe passage to the knockout stages last week against Lyon, and knew a victory in Switzerland would be enough to top the group. Arsenal did just that – and then some.
A Frida Mannum hat-trick, braces from Stina Blackstenius brace and Caitlin Foord and goals from Kim Little and Mana Iwabuchi saw the Gunners to an emphatic victory, topping their group ahead of European champions Lyon.
Arsenal tore out of the starting blocks and had the Zurich goal under siege from the off, Rafaelle almost turning home from a set piece before again coming close from a corner, only to be denied by two goal-saving blocks
The Gunners continued to knock on the door, but Zurich goalkeeper Lourdes Romero was on hand to first deny Katie McCabe from distance and then Blackstenius on the follow up from point blank range.
Arsenal deservedly took the lead after 19 minutes – and in spectacular style. Maanum impeccably found the top corner with a free kick from the edge of the area to continue her impressive goal scoring form this season.
Zurich were handed a golden opportunity to level minutes later, but Alayah Pilgrim saw a free header fly over – and it would be a miss that the Swiss champions would go on to rue.
Foord soon added a second, turning home Blackstenius’s cross after being perfectly picked out by the Sweden striker.
Maanum almost netted a near identical goal to her opener, but grazed the bar with another free kick from the left hand side of the area.
She did have her second just after the half hour mark, Foord triggering the lightning counter attack and sliding in the Norwegian international who had burst forward from midfield, and finishing first time.
Maanum turned provider on the stroke of half time to wrap up a devastating first 45 for her and Arsenal, bursting forward and rolling the ball across the face of goal to Blackstenius, who couldn’t miss.
Maanum completed her hat-trick five minutes into the second half, Leah Williamson winning back possession deep in the Zurich half, and Maanum rifling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Blackstenius attempted to steal Maanum’s thunder four minutes later, sending a stunning, curling strike from range into the top corner to double her tally for the evening.
Zurich netted a consolation – and just their second goal of the group stages – after Williamson slipped in the box and inadvertently brought down Seraina Séverin Piubel. Fabienne Humm netted the subsequent spot kick.
Arsenal quickly restored their six goal advantage, Foord capitalising on a poor back pass and poking home.
Little marked her return to action after nearly two months on the sideline with a goal from 12 yards out to make it eight, converting from the spot after Steph Catley’s cross had struck a hand.
Fellow substitute Iwabuchi added a ninth six minutes from time, crashing the ball into the bottom corner to wrap up an emphatic victory for the Gunners.
GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Couldn’t do a great deal about the Zurich goal. Otherwise largely a spectator.
RB: Noelle Maritz – 7/10 – Back into the starting XI against her former side, rarely troubled defensively and linked up well with McCabe.
CB: Rafaelle – 7/10 – Denied a goal from a set piece on multiple occasions in the early stages of the first half. Solid defensively.
CB: Lotte Wubben-Moy – 7/10 – Made a goal-saving block to keep out Pilgrim in the first half and typically solid. Replaced after an hour.
LB: Steph Catley – 7/10 – Caused chaos with her set piece deliveries and helped win the spot kick for her side’s eighth after her cross struck a hand.
CM: Lia Walti – 7/10 – Typically composed on the ball and solid defensively, allowing Williamson and Maanum the freedom to tear forward. Replaced after an hour.
CM: Leah Williamson – 8/10 – Moved into midfield and made the most of her more advanced role, marauding forward frequently and teeing up Foord with a low cross in the first half from which Arsenal should have scored. Won possession back and teed up Maanum for Arsenal’s fifth. Unfortunate to concede a penalty after slipping.
CM: Frida Maanum – 10/10 – Enjoyed a devastating first half with two goals and an assist: a spectacular free kick into the top corner and two trademark bursts into the box to finish coolly and smarty pick out Blackstenius. Sealed her hat-trick with a fizzing effort from range early in the second half.
RW: Katie McCabe – 8/10 – Sent Blackstenius away in the build up to Arsenal’s second with a probing pass in behind and a constant threat with her ability to win the ball high up and drive at the Zurich backline.
ST: Stina Blackstenius – 9/10 – Saw two first half efforts saved, before picking out Foord for Arsenal’s second and getting on the scoresheet just before the break with a tap in. Netted a stunning second from range early in the second.
LW: Caitlin Foord – 9/10 – Won the free kick from which Arsenal opened the scoring, netted Arsenal’s second with a close range finish and instrumental in the Gunners’ third with a drive forward and perfectly-weighted pass to Maanum.
SUB: Lina Hurtig (62′ for Blackstenius) – 6/10
SUB: Kim Little (62′ for Wubben-Moy) – 7/10 – Netted from the penalty spot, her first appearance since October.
SUB: Jordan Nobbs (62′ for Walti) – 6/10
SUB: Mana Iwabuchi (74 ‘ for Maanum) – 7/10 – On the scoresheet with a sweet finish when one v one.
SUB: Jen Beattie (81′ for Catley) – 6/10