Danielle Van De Donk’s 89th-minute winner gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
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.
Former Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra and England boss Phil Neville were among the crowd at Leigh Sports Village.
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 had a golden chance to open the scoring in the 15th minute when Jessica Sigsworth’s cross picked out Ella Toone six yards from goal but she could not direct her header on target.
Arsenal took their time getting going, and star striker Vivianne Miedema was particularly quiet, but she sprang into life in the 37th minute.
United goalkeeper Mary Earps was equal to the challenge, though, keeping out the Dutchwoman’s header and then saving Miedema’s follow-up effort with her feet.
Arsenal began the second half as they finished the first but, when United did break the shackles, they created one of the best chances of the match.
Jane Ross was one-on-one with Manuela Zinsberger but the keeper saved well.
Three minutes later Earps produced another fine save to deny Kim Little and it was Arsenal who piled on the pressure as the clock wound down.
United had one last chance when Hayley Ladd fired wide but the visitors, and chiefly Miedema, laid siege to Earps’ goal.
Miedema vollyed over, headed wide, hit a post and saw one cleared off the line before substitute Van De Donk applied the final touch as the ball ricocheted around the goalmouth.
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