Arsenal regained third place in the Women’s Super League table with a ruthless win over Brighton to keep their pursuit of Champions League qualification on track.
Jonas Eidevall’s side are above Manchester City on goal difference with three games remaining, having played one game less than their rivals.
They were 2-0 up in eight minutes at Brighton through Stina Blackstenius.
Frida Maanum and Victoria Pelova added to their tally before half-time.
having seen Manchester City lose to Liverpool On Sunday, Arsenal knew victory would seriously bolster their hopes of a top-three finish and mathematically keep them in contention for the title.
They got off to a perfect start when Blackstenius coolly placed in the opener after beating Zoe Morse down the left side, before adding a second when she pounced on a costly defensive error.
The Swede should have scored a hat-trick within half an hour. She had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside, hit the crossbar with a header from yards out and then fired into the side netting.
But the goals kept pouring in from elsewhere for Arsenal as Maanum’s header added a third and Pelova’s powerful strike flew past goalkeeper Megan Walsh at the near post to make it 4-0.
Arsenal’s dominance continued throughout the second half against a Brighton side not yet safe from relegation, despite being five points clear of last Reading club with two games to play.
Brighton have improved under new manager Melissa Phillips, but they have scored 10 goals and kept just one clean sheet in their last five WSL games.
Blackstenius shines as Brighton are exposed
Given how much is at stake in the battle for Champions League qualification, Arsenal could not afford to drop points against Brighton.
They were dealt a blow before kick-off as key midfielder Lia Walti dropped out of the starting XI in the warm-up due to illness, but they showed no signs of slowing down.
Striker Blackstenius was in electric form in the first half, beating goalkeeper Megan Walsh twice and terrorizing the Brighton defense with her pace and movement.
It exposed the frailties that saw Brighton battling for relegation over the past few months, although Phillips’ side improved in the second half and became harder to break down.
A win would have secured their safety in the WSL, but it was still a tall order to beat an Arsenal side who have lost just three league games this season.
Walsh held on with solid saves to deny Kathrine Kuhl and a deflection from team-mate Kayleigh Green, while Brighton had chances at the other end through Elisabeth Terland and Libby Bance.
But with the game over at half-time, Eidevall was able to feature striker Caitlin Foord fresh from injury – a welcome addition for the final three games of the season.
There were also debuts for Arsenal’s Freya Godfrey, 18, and a first WSL appearance of the season for 18-year-old Teyah Goldie, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury 14 months ago.