Man Utd 2-2 Arsenal: Reaction as injury time strike denies Red Devils a point on Russo homecoming

Manchester United were pegged back by an injury time leveller at LSV. Cr. Getty ImagesManchester United were pegged back by an injury time leveller at LSV. Cr. Getty Images
Manchester United were pegged back by an injury time leveller at LSV. Cr. Getty Images | Getty Images
Melvine Malard was denied a dream debut as a stunning injury time strike denied Manchester United all three points in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

Billed as an early six pointer, both sides took to the field determined to prove they were capable of toppling Emma Hayes' side come May. While the Blues were deserved champions last year, United could bemoan their lack of experience in crucial moments, whereas Arsenal will feel their season was derailed by a crippling injury crisis.

In their head to head clashes, Marc Skinner's United outfit had stolen a march on their North London rivals last year, winning home and away thanks to winning strikes from Alessia Russo. This season, Russo would line-up for the Gunners in their striking new Stella McCartney designed away kit.

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And while both bosses had brushed off the narrative of the 'Russo return' in their midweek pressers, the Lionesses striker was roundly booed as she entered the LSV pitch and throughout the 90 minutes and for long spells. It seemingly had little impact though, with Russo putting in a mature display that offered everything but a goal.

Skinner's side were forced to withstand big Arsenal pressure throughout and while summer signing Geyse looked lively up top and possession swung in United's favour, too few of it took place in areas that caused serious damage to Arsenal, too often trying to force the killer pass.

In the first half especially, the Gunners appeared to have more zip in their play and when Stina Blackstenius handed them a deserved lead via a combination of Russo and Steph Catley, few in the United dugout could have complained.

United were handed a liftlife shortly after when Gabby George's long pass was completely missed by on-rushing goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo and Leah Galton would level the score when she tapped into an empty net and sent the sold out home crowd into raptures. A glorious chance for Geyse early in the second would almost fire United in the lead as the team looked to build up a head of steam.

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That chance would be the best United could muster in the early throws of the second half though as Arsenal began to take control of the game after Eidevall's tactical switch saw Russo revert to a more central role. Chances would come and go for the Gunners with captain Kim Little dictating.

Russo would then come within the width of post from writing the headline many had felt inevitable for when neat interplay between herself and Frida Leonhardsen Maanum allowed her to cannon a shot beyond Mary Earps and off the left hand post with the away side looking the most likely winner.

However, with United on the ropes, on loan Lyon striker Malard would come off the bench to tap home from close range with just 10 minutes left on the clock as Skinner's side looked to take an unlikely win. Only her second touch after entering the field, the script writers had offered up a story-line few expected.

However, just as the Malard looked set to write herself into United folklore, another substitute, Cleo Lacasse, would fire home a fine individual strike deep into injury time to peg United back and grab Arsenal a share of the spoils they most likely deserved.

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