Matildas stars Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley have moved within touching distance of a place in the Women’s Champions League knockout phase after helping Arsenal beat Juventus 1-0 in London.

Vivianne Miedema’s hot streak continued. The excellent 16th-minute finish at Arsenal Stadium was her third consecutive goal since returning from a short break in Adelaide, and was enough to keep Jonas Eidevall’s side at the top of Group C.

A hard-fought victory over Australian Joe Montemurro’s Juventus team means a point at home to defending champions Lyon next week, who beat FC Zurich 4-0 to go above Juve into second, will send the English outfit through to the last eight of Europe’s elite competition.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich scored a 3-1 home win over last season’s beaten finalists Barcelona to trail them only on goal difference at the top of Group D, while Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah conceded three times before being substituted after a collision with opposing forward Cloe Lacasse in FC Rosengaard’s 3-1 defeat by visiting Benfica.

Euro 2022 winner Leah Williamson was back in Arsenal’s starting line-up after recovering from three months out with a foot injury.

The captain almost watched the Italians take an early lead through Arianna Caruso, but the hosts settled into their groove and only the offside flag denied Stina Blackstenius a goal in the 12th minute.

Juventus’ let-off did not last long though, with the Gunners taking the lead four minutes later through their in-form Dutch attacker.

After Williamson picked out Blackstenius down the right, the cross by the Swedish striker was missed by ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin and Miedema was on hand to fire home into the empty net.

Foord saw a long-range strike parried wide, while Blackstenius and Lottie Wubben-Moy also went close before half-time to ensure Arsenal’s advantage remained at only one for the interval.

Juventus came out with better intent after the break but it was the home side which continued to create the better chances, with Foord denied by Peyraud-Magnin.

Former Arsenal boss Montemurro saw his side continue to push for a leveller but the best they could muster were hopeful long-range efforts from Lisa Boattin and Julia Grosso, before Valentina Cernoia’s added-time free kick landed on the roof of the net.

It meant Arsenal held on for a vital three points and will progress into the quarterfinals with a draw at home to Lyon next week.

AAP/AP

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