Arsenal’s England forward Beth Mead made her first appearance in nearly a year a memorable one by setting up a goal for Alessia Russo as the hosts scored twice in stoppage time to snatch a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
Mead, who had not played since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament last November, came off the bench in the 87th minute to a rousing reception from the home fans in a 35,829 crowd at The Emirates before her assist for Russo’s goal seven minutes later.
It was Russo’s first league goal for Arsenal since her move from Manchester United in the close season and came after Katie McCabe had equalised in the 92nd following Maz Pacheco’s first-half goal which had Villa looking poised to take the points.
Mead, 28, won the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament in England’s Euro 2022 triumph but was sidelined for this year’s World Cup in Australia, where the Lionesses were finalists.
“Pretty special,” Mead told the BBC on returning after her long-term knee injury. “It’s been obviously a long, tough injury but the fans here today were incredible. I got a bit emotional running on the pitch but amazing to be back, so amazing.”
Arsenal was heading for a second straight home defeat before the late turnaround which sees it move to four points from three matches, while Villa has yet to pick up a point.