Gunners spoil Spurs’ new stadium debut

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    LONDON — Another milestone in women’s soccer was reached on Sunday when a record Super League (WSL) crowd of 38,262 saw Tottenham Hotspur’s 0-2 defeat by champions Arsenal at their new stadium but such matches in big grounds are still the exception.

    Total attendances on a packed day of top-flight women’s games in England was almost 75,000, with 23,500 at Anfield to watch Liverpool lose 1-0 to Everton in the Merseyside derby.

    The record crowd who flocked to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, hosting its first women’s game since opening in April, eclipsed the previous WSL best of 31,213 for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on the season’s opening weekend.

    The numbers highlight the effort to capitalize on the England team’s run to the World Cup semifinals this year.

    But while the number of WSL games at bigger stadia are increasing, some players believe that the fact they remain special occasions and are being staged during an international break in the men’s game needs to change.

    “If I’m honest it shouldn’t be a moment. It should be something that hopefully becomes the norm,” Spurs coach Karen Hills told a news conference.

    “You want to see these women playing in big stadiums, you want to see these big crowds come along, and so hopefully it won’t just be an occasion, it will be the norm of women’s football.”

    Hills was, though, more focused on her team’s wasted chances in the match than the number of people watching.

    “Very disappointing, we set ourselves up to win every game, we held our own and were unfortunate not to go in at halftime 1-0 up. We created good opportunities, but (are) disappointed not to get the three points,” she said.

    Fans lined the streets around the stadium before the game on a sunny autumnal day, enjoying the festivities which included live music and special appearances by players in the club shop. – Reuters