Arsenal have kicked off their Women’s Champions League campaign with a comfortable 4-0 win over Okzhetpes from Kazakhstan, with summer signings Mana Iwabuchi and Nikita Parris each marking their competitive debut for the Gunners with a goal.
It means that Arsenal have progressed to the final of their first qualifying round mini-tournament in Moscow and will now face either PSV Eindhoven or Lokomotiv Moscow for a place in the second qualifying round in early September.
If they then win in the second qualifying round, the Gunners will be in the Champions League group stage, which has been newly created for the revamped tournament this season.
With the new WSL campaign not due to get underway until next month, this was Arsenal’s first competitive game of the 2021/22 season and they wasted little time to get going.
Iwabuchi netted inside the opening 14 minutes for an early lead, which was then doubled by Kim Little from the penalty spot just moments later.
Beth Mead scored Arsenal’s third shortly after the hour, while Parris – a Champions League winner with Lyon in 2019/20 – rounded off the scoring with a fourth without reply 10 minutes later.
Arsenal last played in the Champions League in 2019/20, reaching the quarter-finals, and have now returned to the elite continental competition by virtue of landing the WSL’s third and final European place in the final stages of last season.
New manager Jonas Eidevall guided Swedish club Rosengard to the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season and is already setting his sights on lifting the trophy with Arsenal.
“I think it’s what attracts people to the club in one way, to compete for the biggest trophy there is at the top level. It’s one of the reasons I came to Arsenal: that I want to see if we can win the Champions League with this club,” he said ahead of the Okzhetpes game.
“Nobody would say we are out of a chance against any opponent in the Champions League. It’s not going to be easy, but we will have a chance against any team in the world and we are going to do our best to grab that chance in any given game.”