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In the first game of the season, Arsenal defeated Brighton 4-0.

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A sold-out Meadow Park witnessed the return of the Barclays Women’s Super League on Friday night, as Arsenal trounced a revamped Brighton & Hove Albion, 4-0.

Emma Kullberg’s red card in the sixth minute reduced Brighton to 10 players, four of whom were making their professional debuts, yet Arsenal scored just once in the first half, through captain Kim Little.

Stina Blackstenius added a second shortly after the resumption of play, and then Euros Player of the Tournament Beth Mead scored again for Arsenal to finish the day with a hat trick.

Without VAR in the WSL, referee Lisa Benn missed the Swedish forward’s offside position in the buildup to Arsenal’s first goal, and Kullberg’s red card ended any prospect Brighton had of claiming a first WSL victory over Arsenal.

Mead’s free-kick was diverted behind for a corner that led to nothing, and the Seagulls were only somewhat back on even ground before Arsenal began a run of full domination that lasted for virtually the whole half.

Caitlin Foord, operating down the left flank, routinely tested goalkeeper Megan Walsh with shots from outside the box, the most recent coming in the seventeenth minute. Three minutes later, a disgruntled Mead blasted a scuffed attempt straight at Walsh.

Brighton, encouraged by the fact that they were still tied, pushed forward and created the half’s best opportunity when a pass from Lee Geummin down the right flank found Elisabeth Terland on the left side of the box, but her shot was just wide.

Warning received, Arsenal quickly countered from the ensuing goal kick, but Foord’s cross was too heavy for the alert Blackstenius or Vivianne Miedema.

In the 28th minute, Little repaid Arsenal’s early season effort by scoring the league’s opening goal of the year, rifling in a shot from the centre of the penalty area following further fine play by Foord.

Blackstenius would have two more chances before halftime, first rattling the crossbar, and then headed barely wide as the flag was raised for offside again, sending Brighton into the break down by only one goal.

Arsenal’s tall striker was offside when she attempted to stab home again three minutes into the second half, but she was in the right place at the right time to score Arsenal’s second and put the home team up 2-0.

The cry of “Meado” was revived in the 63rd minute when Mead scored off an assist from Miedema. Miedema scored again 11 minutes later before the flag was raised for a second time.

Still, with nine minutes left, replacement Jordan Nobbs managed to rattle the crossbar, and then, in the 83rd minute, another goal by Mead put the game to bed and gave Arsenal their ninth consecutive league victory.

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