Arsenal needed a late strike from Danielle van de Donk to win at Manchester United, as the newly promoted hosts impressed against the defending Women’s Super League champions.
England goalkeeper Mary Earps had produced several fine saves to give Casey Stoney’s team hope of earning their first point as a top-flight club.
But a deflection helped the ball find Van de Donk who fired home in the closing stages, just after her Netherlands team-mate Vivianne Miedema had struck the post.
Last season’s second-tier winners could have won the game themselves, with Arsenal’s Austria international shot-stopper Manuela Zinsberger denying Scotland’s Jane Ross when one-on-one in the second half, but the Gunners were dominant late on and eventually found a way past Earps.
United had looked set to hold on for their first point since being promoted to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League but the defending champions eventually found the breakthrough.
England star Jordan Nobbs made her first start for Arsenal since recovering from the cruciate ligament injury that ruled her out of the World Cup.
United, promoted from the Championship last term at the first time of asking following the reformation of the club’s senior women’s side in 2018, were playing in their first home game as a WSL club and were backed by a passionate crowd of 2,530 at Leigh Sports Village.