Arsenal’s Women’s Champions League qualifying campaign got off to a winning start as Jonas Eidevall’s side secured a 3-0 victory against Linkoping in Sweden.
Second-half goals from Caitlin Foord (53), Lina Hurtig (81) and Stina Blackstenius (90) made it a winning start to the season for the Gunners, who will now face France’s Paris FC or Ukraine’s Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih on Saturday for the chance to reach the second round of qualifying – the round before the group stage.
Alessia Russo, Amanda Ilestedt and Cloe Lacasse were all handed their Arsenal debuts in Sweden.
After a tight first half, which saw Kim Little’s early penalty saved, all of the goals came in the second half with Foord and Hurtig finding the back of the net with headers before Blackstenius rounded off what was eventually a comfortable evening for the Gunners.
Arsenal team news: Russo debut | Mead on bench
Jonas Eidevall included new signings Alessia Russo, Amanda Ilestedt and Cloe Lacasse in the starting XI to face Linkoping.
After nine months away, Beth Mead made a long-awaited return to the matchday squad with Eidevall naming her on the bench for the Gunners.
There was further positive news for Arsenal, who named England international Beth Mead on the bench after nine months out with a knee injury.
Arsenal will now prepare for Saturday’s final, which will also be in Linkopings. Paris FC and Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih play in the other semi-final of Arsenal’s section at 8pm on Wednesday.
What’s next for Arsenal in the Champions League?
The Gunners will face the winners of Paris FC vs Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih on Saturday September 9, again in Linköping.
When does the WSL season start?
The 2023/24 Women’s Super League season starts on October 1, with Arsenal, who finished third last season, starting their campaign against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.
How Champions League qualifying works…
Round one of Champions League qualifying consists of two knockout games. As previously mentioned, Arsenal will now take on the winner of Paris FC vs FC Kryvbas on Saturday September 9 for a place in the second round of qualifying.
In round two, the Gunners will only face one team. They will play a home and away leg as they bid to reach the Champions League group stages.
Wolfsburg, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Sparta Praha, BK Häcken and Manchester United all enter the competition at this stage.
The round-two knockout matches take place in October and will decide which 12 teams will join automatic qualifiers Barcelona, Lyon, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea in the group stages in November.
How to follow the WSL on Sky Sports’ digital platforms
Follow all the latest from the Women’s Super League across SkySports.com and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from games live on Sky Sports.
You can also watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel, while all matches will continue to be shown on both Sky Sports Football, as well as on Sky Showcase, available in all Sky homes, even without a Sky Sports package, giving the competition greater visibility.
Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.
The Sky Sports WSL TikTok account gives fans 360° coverage of the league and granting them exclusive access to their new favourite players. Through fun challenges and interviews, along with behind-the-scenes footage, viewers will get to know the WSL’s array of personalities and see the sport from a new set of angles.
Meanwhile, fans can also keep up to date with everything on and off the pitch with the return of Three Players and a Podcast, hosted by Caroline Barker.
Key dates for the 2023/24 season
- Barclays Women’s Super League opening weekend: Sunday October 1
- Barclays Women’s Championship opening weekend: August 26 – August 27
- FA Women’s Continental League Cup final: March 30/31
- Barclays Women’s Championship final weekend: Sunday April 28
- Vitality Women’s FA Cup final: May 11/12
- Barclays Women’s Super League final weekend: Sunday May 18