Thorns win, Dash and Red Stars draw: highlights
Portland beats KC, 2-1, while Houston and Chicago draw 0-0.
All eyes were on the FA Women’s Super League this Friday as the much-anticipated contest between Manchester United and Manchester City took place. The two squads went into the match neck-in-neck in the table, with Manchester United holding onto second place by a mere two points. Hot on their heels was City, who may have knocked “Big Three” squad Arsenal out of the title race last Sunday in a 2-1 win.
On Friday, Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Lucy Bronze, Lauren Hemp, and Caroline Weir, adding three points to leap the Reds in the standings.
With the win, City improves to 10-1-3, with only two points now separating them from first-place Chelsea.
After a purely defensive start to the first half, it was Manchester City that would draw first blood as they were awarded a corner kick in the 23rd minute of the match. As soon as the ball was lofted in, it was popped up into the air, and a scramble in the United box ensued. Amidst the chaos, a City player was able to redirect a header to the feet of Lucy Bronze, who used her first touch to bury a shot past United goalkeeper Mary Earps. The goal was Bronze’s second of the season, giving City a 1-0 edge over United.
Later, in the 38th minute, an attempted bicycle kick from Ellen White came dangerously close to giving City a 2-0 lead, but an excellent save from Mary Earps would deny the forward the scoring chance. Though United would avoid a two-goal deficit, an unfortunate injury would occur minutes later as Leah Galton was taken down in the midfield. In visible pain, Galton was helped off the field in what seemed like an injury to her ankle or lower leg. The loss of Galton comes as another significant blow to Manchester United’s FAWSL title hopes, as the squad is already without Tobin Heath for the foreseeable future.
Manchester City held their opponents to just three first-half shots, only one of which was on goal. Meanwhile, United’s defense sustained several attacks, with City getting off eight shots, two of which were on target. Despite this, City’s one-goal lead provided little to no sense of security given the offensive talents of United.
However, it was City that would enter the second half with guns blazing as Lauren Hemp played in a cross from the left flank, meeting Ellen White in stride. With her first touch, White fired off a shot on goal, but a diving save by Earps would render her scoreless for the second time during the match.
City would finally double their lead in the 71st minute when Chloe Kelly intercepted a clearance attempt by the United defense, cutting the ball to her left foot and taking a shot from distance. Earps made the initial save, but unfortunately for United, the ball deflected into the path of Lauren Hemp, who volleyed home City’s second goal of the match to provide a much-needed cushion.
United’s handful of opportunities came from none other than Christen Press, who was twice charged by City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck to maintain the clean sheet. In her first chance, Press beat a City defender just outside the eighteen, with Roebuck abandoning the net in an attempt to make the save. Before Roebuck could get in front of the ball, Press fired a shot that sailed above the crossbar and out of bounds.
The forward would find herself in a similar circumstance later in the match when a ball was played from midfield into her path. In just one touch, Press broke into the eighteen, and again Roebuck left the net to deny United a chance to cut into City’s lead. In an impressive feat, Roebuck was able to get in front of Press’s shot, deflecting the ball out of bounds.
To conclude an already-dazzling performance by Manchester City, Caroline Weir added her name to the scoresheet in the 84th minute, showcasing her impressive footwork to beat a City defender before lofting a shot just over the fingertips of Earps and into the back of the net. The goal was just another reminder of Weir’s composure and precision, talents that have made her quite the asset in City’s midfield as of late.
As the final whistle blew, City dealt a damaging blow to United’s hopes for a title, defeating the Reds 3-0 to continue their winning ways. Having dropped their last two contests, Casey Stoney and her squad will be desperate to remedy their lackluster showing in the attacking third should they want to remain at or near the top of the table.
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