Arsenal 4 Hoffenheim 0
Tobin Heath’s stunning team goal headlined a dominant first win for Arsenal in the Champions League group stages as they swept German opponents Hoffenheim aside.
Two weeks on from being blindsided 4-1 by reigning champions Barcelona, Arsenal delivered their own four-goal thrashing as they transferred their impressive league form to the European competition.
In their 11th win from 12 matches this season, the hosts took the lead from a 21st-minute penalty, after Beth Mead was brought down by Michaela Specht. She received a yellow card and Arsenal captain Kim Little made it five from five from the spot this season with her low strike.
Arsenal’s second goal was a beauty and it followed a period of increased pressure on their back four. As they continued to try to play out from the back, there were a few nervy moments and hasty clearances from goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger. But they held off the threat and, with some fine build-up play, produced a moment of quality.
It began with Katie McCabe’s cross from the left into Vivianne Miedema in the area. The Arsenal striker leapt to meet the ball and guided a perfect downward header to Heath, who hit it emphatically first time into the far top corner.
The American’s first goal for Arsenal since her summer signing – and first in the Champions League – was one to savour, and a gut punch to Hoffenheim seconds from half-time.
The start of the second period brought no immediate joy for the German visitors.
Miedema bundled the ball over the line for Arsenal’s third goal in the 51st minute, after Jordan Nobbs’s classy strike from distance forced a save from Hoffenheim goalkeeper Martina Tufekovic.
But Hoffenheim were not done, largely because of Jule Brand’s persistent efforts up front. A top save from Zinsberger preserved Arsenal’s clean sheet, stopping a deflected shot by the 18-year-old. Soon after, McCabe cleared Brand’s header off the goal-line, and the forward continued to harass Arsenal’s defence.
A goal from close range by Arsenal centre-back Leah Williamson in the 86th minute finally put the game well and truly to bed.
After two matches, Arsenal sit second in Group C, behind Barcelona who won 2-0 at Danish side Koge. The Spanish giants struggled to make an immediate breakthrough but a goal from Fridolina Rolfo just after the hour mark did the trick, and Jennifer Hermoso secured the win with a 95th-minute penalty.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Zingsberger 6; Maritz 6, Williamson 7, Wubben-Moy 7, McCabe 7; Little 7, Nobbs 7 (Iwabuchi 84), Maanum 8; Mead 8 (Parris 65), Miedema 8 (Foord 74), Heath 8 (Catley 74)
Substitutes: Williams, Beattie, Walti, Schnaderbeck, Iwabuchi, Goldie
Hoffenheim (4-4-2): Tufekovic 5; Wienroither 5, Feldkamp 5, Specht 6, Naschenweng 7; Linder 6 (Steinert 78), Dongus 5 (Harsch 78), Hagel 6 (Degen 90), Brand 8; De Caigny 6 (Corley 46), Billa 7 (Leimenstoll 78)
Substitutes: Dick, Schrader, Buhler, Kocsan, Fuhre
Referee: Stephanie Frappart