Beth Mead's first start for Arsenal after a serious knee injury is a "huge step", manager Jonas Eidevall says.
England forward Mead, 28, started the Gunners' 3-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on the anniversary of rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The player of the tournament in England's Euro 2022 triumph completed 64 minutes at Broadfield Stadium.
"I took the decision with my eyes," Eidevall said of the timing of Mead's withdrawal as she regains full fitness.
"Today was 60 minutes and next time we'll see.
"It's a huge step in her return to play by starting a game.
"It gives us a really important tool at this point in the season, when we can see that we have great competition in our forward positions."
Mead's return as a substitute against Aston Villa on 15 October came at the start of Arsenal's current run of six consecutive wins in all competitions, with the 2021-22 Ballon d'Or Feminin runner-up coming off the bench in each of their past four league matches.
Prolific in previous games against Brighton, Mead arrowed a fierce strike narrowly over the bar from the edge of the penalty area shortly before she was substituted against the Seagulls.
The 2022 BBC Women's Footballer of the Year was unimpressed by a robust first-half aerial challenge from opposition defender Jorelyn Carabali which left her in heap, but her many fans in the stands would have been pleased to see her cope with the tough physical test and help Arsenal keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea.
"You can see that she's involved in good goal-creating opportunities," said Eidevall, adding that Arsenal's two late goals were a sign of their increased squad depth because of the return of injured players including Mead.
"When you see the goals that we scored, I don't think that's a coincidence with us having real quality players coming on with fresh legs, being able to capitalise on the space we had there."
Two-time WSL Golden Boot winner Vivianne Miedema made her comeback from an 11-month ACL injury against Bristol City in October but was an unused substitute in Arsenal's subsequent win at Leicester City and was not included in the matchday squad at Brighton.
Eidevall told Sky Sports that striker Miedema, defender Jen Beattie and captain Kim Little had "minor" issues which were "nothing to keep them away long".