Arsenal striker Bethany Mead scored twice as her side beat champions Chelsea 3-2 in a thrilling match to get their FA Women’s Super League season off to a winning start at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Vivianne Miedema gave the home side the lead in the 14th minute, latching on to a pass down the left wing from Katie McCabe before firing home low at the far post for her 61st goal in 68 WSL games for Arsenal.

Erin Cuthbert equalised for Chelsea before the break with a goal in the 44th minute.

Arsenal looked to have sealed it with two goals from Mead in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but a brilliantly-timed header by Pernille Harder in the 64th minute set up a grandstand finish.

“We scored two goals at the Emirates and had 15 shots, so created chances but you can’t concede three goals and expect to win games,” Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said.

Chelsea threw everything forward in the closing minutes but despite getting dangerous balls into the box, the closest they came was a Sam Kerr header straight at the keeper.

In the other game on Sunday, West Ham United’s Hawa Cissoko was sent off as Brighton & Hove Albion eased past the visitors 2-0 with first-half strikes from Inessa Kaagman and Lee Geum-min.

Cissoko was adjudged to have handled a goalbound shot in the 34th minute and the resultant penalty was calmly dispatched by Kaagman. Brighton doubled their advantage seven minutes later, with Lee scoring from close range following some sloppy defending by West Ham.

Manchester City top the table after a 4-0 win over Everton on Saturday with Manchester United second following their 2-0 win over Reading. Arsenal are third.