Arsenal forward Beth Mead started her first game in exactly a year on Sunday, playing just over an hour in the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Brighton.
The 28-year-old ruptured her ACL in last season’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at the Emirates.
But goals from Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord and Frida Maanum at Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium helped Arsenal narrow the gap to WSL leaders Chelsea – who beat Liverpool 5-1 on Saturday – to three points.
Blackstenius got the visitors going when she swiped at a poor defensive header and missed, before, under little pressure, she hooked in at the second time of asking.
Brighton came close to an equaliser before the break when Elisabeth Terland’s shot was palmed away by Manuela Zinsberger, with the goalkeeper then unconvincingly pushing Julia Zigiotti Olme’s shot around the post.
Mead was millimetres away from marking her momentous day with a goal shortly before she was withdrawn, but she lifted over after a square ball from Blackstenius.
The resistance of the hosts was finally broken again after 80 minutes when Foord received the ball in a central spot and rattled home a cracking second from 25 yards.
Substitute Maanum then made sure of the win in the 95th minute when she caressed home after Cloe Lacasse had controlled Alessia Russo’s cross and unselfishly teed her team-mate up.
Thestrup earns Robins late point at Everton
Amalie Thestrup’s late equaliser earned Bristol City a 2-2 draw at Everton to keep them in touch with the Toffees and lift them off the bottom of the WSL – for a few hours at least.
The hosts flew out of the blocks and took a deserved early lead, when Martina Piemonte struck at the second attempt after five minutes, having seen her first effort kept out by Olivia Clark.
But Everton could not turn their dominance into more goals, despite Piemonte almost latching onto a loose back pass from the visitors.
Instead, Amy Rodgers thumped the Robins level moments before the break with a superb first-time effort after a corner was only half-cleared.
But 12 minutes into the second period, the hosts restored their lead from a flag kick of their own when Megan Finnigan reacted fastest to poke home past Clark.
Bristol City were worthy of their point in the end though, and secured it eight minutes from time when Thestrup latched onto a long ball forward before dinking over the onrushing Courtney Brosnan and into the empty net.