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Manchester Derby Ends in Draw

BARNET, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Tobin Heath of Manchester United during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Tottenham Hotspur Women and Manchester United Women at The Hive on October 10, 2020 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Manchester United 2, Manchester City 2 (Highlights)

Goals: Chloe Kelly – 8’, Laura Coombs – 45+1’, Tobin Heath – 54’, Kirsty Hanson – 74’

A game of two halves would be the best description of the Manchester Derby, with Manchester City dominating the first half against Manchester United, and then the two flipping roles in the second. With a two-goal lead at halftime, City seemed to take their foot off the gas, and their FAWSL rivals capitalized. Having fixed their tactical errors from the first half, United were able to tie up the game with a pair of goals. And while both teams went home with a point apiece, Manchester City will obviously feel more frustrated with the result.

Here’s how the action unfolded:

Manchester United went into the match at the top of the table after beating Arsenal last week, and Manchester City were two points within them in fifth place after an 8-1 thrashing against Bristol City.

The match started quickly with both sides getting a couple of early chances, but it was City who capitalized first. Mary Earps’ loose pass allowed City to win the first corner of the match, and after some scrambling in the box from United’s defense, who could not clear the ball properly, it was City’s Chloe Kelly that gave her side the lead.

From then United seemed to capitulate in defense, and City had chance after chance.

In particular, United struggled immensely with Georgia Stanway, with Ona Batlle having a tough time in her 1v1 matchup. Batlle would often play well into Manchester City’s half when her team was in possession and would press high when United were out of possession. The problem was that City, despite their flaws, are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to transitioning from defense to attack. United were unable to cope with these transitions, and Stanway would often receive the ball in wide-open space with Batlle still running back.

United’s lack of agility during these transitions allowed City numerous shots, including a second goal scored by Laura Coombs, which came after Sam Mewis’ initial shot was blocked. The ball landed at Coombs’ feet, where she took a touch to create space and scored from outside the box.

By halftime, City’s tactic of quickly getting in behind and using the transitions was clearly advantageous in their favor, with 14 shots to United’s two. A significant lead at the time, but in hindsight, they should have been kicking themselves for not extending it.

In the second half, Manchester United rectified their mistakes and were much tighter in the back. A half-time substitute saw Jessica Sigsworth come off for Kirsty Hanson. In the first half, Sigsworth was doing little to help out Batlle defensively. It’s clear that Casey Stoney saw that Hanson could offer more on both ends of the pitch.

United were not only tighter in the back, but much more aggressive while attacking. Unlike the first half, they were not giving away cheap opportunities for City to press them. In fact, it was almost as if both teams switched their style of play. Manchester United’s first goal came from Lucy Bronze’s sloppy passing from the back. Tobin Heath was able to intercept the ball and hit a searing strike into the back of the net.

United’s second came from the substitute, Hanson. A corner rebounded straight into her path, and despite the clustered penalty area, Hansen was able to get the shot off for the equalizer.

Hanson was the epitome of a super-sub for Manchester United. Not only did she score the goal, but she was able to stabilize the right side of the defense that United struggled with in the first half.

Gareth Taylor did not make a substitution until United’s second goal, which was part of the reason his team lost a lot of their momentum in the second half. As much as United improved in the second half, City helped them by not matching the intensity they showcased in the first. Earlier substitutes could have prevented United from getting back into the game.

United were almost able to grab the winner right at the 90th minute, but Demi Stokes was able to clear it off the line despite it getting past the hands of Earps. A fortunate break for Manchester City.

The derby came to an end with both sides earning a point. The good news is that viewers won’t have to wait long for a rematch, as the two sides are up against each other again in the Conti Cup this Thursday. For now, both teams remain in first and fifth in the table respectively.



December 5th 

Aston Villa vs. Manchester United @ 7:30 a.m. EST

December 6th 

Everton vs. Manchester City @ 8:00 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs. Birmingham City @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Chelsea vs. West Ham @  9:00 a.m. EST

Tottenham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Reading F.C. vs. Bristol City @ 9:00 a.m. EST

December 12th

Bristol City vs. Aston Villa @ 2:30 p.m. EST