Arsenal’s manager, Jonas Eidevall, praised the impact of the 500-strong away contingent present for their 5-1 win over the organised Danish champions HB Køge in the Champions League.
“It was amazing,” he said of the travelling fans and Arsenal supporters groups in Denmark and Sweden who had mobilised for the game and contributed to a record 2,103 attendance for the home team.
“I’ve felt from the beginning like we have been doing this together with the fans. It’s so good for the belief of the players. It reminds us all of what a privilege it is to represent Arsenal.”
Eidevall’s side remain second in Group C, three points behind Barcelona after the win, in which Nikita Parris missed a penalty before going on to score Arsenal’s second of the night.
Køge may have been the underdogs in the group containing Arsenal, Barcelona and Hoffenheim but the Elitedivisionen champions came close to providing a huge shock in the previous round of games. The Danish side stifled Barcelona until the 63rd minute and twice went close to scoring as their rapid counterattack caught the reigning European champions out. In the end, Barcelona won 2-0 but it was the first time the Spanish champions had not scored three or more goals this season.
It was a cagier Køge that took to the pitch against Arsenal, though. By the 15-minute mark the visiting side had their best chance when forward Cecilie Fløe brought down Parris to concede a penalty. With regular penalty taker Kim Little watching from the bench, Parris stepped up but her shot was a tidy height for American goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese who pushed the effort aside.
With Køge getting bodies behind the ball it was a set piece that provided the opening for the visiting team. A free-kick from the right was sweetly swept into the top corner by Australian full-back Steph Catley.
As Køge began to work their way out in the second half, in search of the goal that would get them something from the game, the gaps began to open up at the back. In the space of six minutes Arsenal scored twice to kill the tentative but bright forays forward of the Danish side.
First Parris, with her back to goal, collected a quick ball into her feet and spun and fired in. Then forward Caitlin Foord headed in the rebound after Jordan Nobbs crashed an effort against the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Køge got their first Champions League goal moments later after a mistake from Catley, who underhit her back pass, allowing Maddie Pokorny to pounce and slip the ball past goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Unperturbed, Arsenal swept forward once more, buoyed by fresh legs, and defender Anna Patten floated the ball into the corner of the net for her first European goal. Five minutes later, Nobbs added the fifth from a tight angle.
“It’s very important to keep going to create habits,” said Eidevall. “If you don’t [keep pushing] all the time it’s hard to know when you are supposed to and when you’re not. That’s not a good way to do things; I’m all in.”