Foord helps Arsenal past Linköping in Women’s Champions League qualifier | Women’s Champions League

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Goals from the Australia forward Caitlin Foord and the former Linköping duo Lina Hurtig and Stina Blackstenius earned Arsenal progression in their Champions League qualifying mini-tournament at the expense of the Swedish pair’s old side.

The Gunners laboured in Sweden against opponents playing on their own ground, but that was to be expected. Champions League qualification is a bruising start to the season, particularly for teams such as Arsenal, who had 15 players involved in the World Cup and seven of those still involved just over two weeks ago.

For the players that reached the latter stages of the competition, there was only room for one week off before they were called back to north London to begin pre-season training in preparation for these tough qualifying rounds. Manchester City have shown just how much of a banana skin qualification can be, having failed to reach the group stage in the past two seasons. With the calendar so stacked, there is an argument to say that the group stage should be expanded to reduce the number of qualifiers that need to be played to reduce overloading on already overloaded players.

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Beating Linköping set up a tie against Paris FC on Saturday. Should Arsenal progress, they will head into the second round of qualifying, a two-legged playoff to be played in October, to earn a spot in the increasingly lucrative group stage.

There was room in the starting XI for three of Jonas Eidevall’s four summer signings, with the Sweden defender Amanda Ilestedt, who scored four goals at the World Cup (one behind the top scorer, Hinata Miyazawa), the England forward Alessia Russo and Canada’s Cloé Lacasse all involved from the off.

Stina Blackstenius celebrates scoring Arsenal’s third goal against her former club Linköping.
Stina Blackstenius celebrates scoring Arsenal’s third goal against her former club Linköping. Photograph: Jeppe Gustafsson/Shutterstock

Arsenal had the chance to put Linköping on the back foot early on, but the goalkeeper Cajsa Andersson pushed aside Kim Little’s tame effort from the spot after a handball resulted in a penalty.

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It took until the 54th minute for Arsenal to take a deserved lead and Little was the creator, dinking the ball from the byline towards Foord at the back post and the Australian forward nodded down and in.

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Bethany England undergoes hip surgery


Tottenham have confirmed that Bethany England has undergone a minor surgical procedure on her hip. The 29-year-old will now undertake a period of rehabilitation with our medical team and will be closely monitored to determine when she can return to training.

The 29-year-old, who was part of the England squad that reached the World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand said on X: “Unfortunately on Monday I required hip surgery to fix an issue I’ve had for a few months. Sadly this means I will be sidelined for a while.

“I’m gutted I won’t be able to start the new season with my team and have the chance to play in the Women’s Nations League with the Lionesses. However, priority right now is my recovery and working hard to get back on the pitch as soon as possible. In the meantime I’ll be the biggest supporter for both club and country.”

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Linköping threatened, with Yuka Momiki going close, but two former players ended their hopes of progression, Hurtig and Blackstenius coming off the bench to seal victory for the London side, Hurtig via a header in the 81st minute and her compatriot side-footing in a Foord cross from the right in the final minute of normal time.

It was not particularly pretty, but it was job done. Arsenal are a quarter of the way to the Champions League group stage and will have some important competitive minutes in their legs going into the Women’s Super League season, but the lack of a proper break for their stars could prove costly further down the line.

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