Report: United Women 3 Everton 1

Sunday 27 March 2022 14:49

Manchester United Women came from behind to win 3-1 in the team's first-ever outing in front of an Old Trafford crowd.

Claire Emslie's fourth-minute strike had given the visitors the lead early on, before Alessia Russo's looping header shortly before half-time levelled the scores. 

Captain Katie Zelem completed the turnaround from the penalty spot early in the second half before Russo nodded home again in the closing stages to make sure of the victory. 


After an entrance onto the Old Trafford turf to remember, the Reds had to respond to an early setback that was not in the perfect script. The visitors' Kenza Dali set Emslie away down the right flank, with the latter driving into the box and powering into the bottom left corner to open the scoring just four minutes in. 

Backed by the shouts of a strong home crowd in M16, Skinner's side searched out an instant response attacking the East Stand. Captain Zelem looked to lead by example, flighting a ball just wide of the target before Russo, who pressed high to win the ball back, saw her following low effort gathered in the centre of the goal by Toffees goalkeeper Sandy MacIver. 

United's best attempt at a leveller in the opening half hour then came via Martha Thomas. The Scotland international, who netted in the League Cup meeting between the sides back in December, connected on the volley with a well-worked short corner from the right but it was saved by MacIver with Leah Galton's rebound charged down at short range. 

The Reds' persistence paid off in the 35th minute however, when a deserved equaliser arrived. Jackie Groenen slipped Ona Batlle into the right channel, with the Spaniard's cross picking out Russo, whose looping header beat the goalkeeper and found the net to level the scores. 

As the first half came to a close, both sides were continuing to look to edge in front ahead of the break. First, Hannah Blundell saw a shot blocked for United, before Everton midfielder and skipper Izzy Christiansen curled just over the crossbar at the other end, with referee Helen Conley's half-time whistle going soon after.


Attacking the Stretford End after the interval, the Reds couldn't have gone much closer to kicking off the resumption in the perfect manner. Following some good work from Thomas on the right sideline, she picked out an unmarked Ella Toone coming in at the back post, but our no.7 couldn't quite keep her first-time effort down, lofting over the crossbar. 

Thomas was involved again moments later, as United were awarded a penalty. The forward was brought down inside the box by half-time substitute Lucy Graham, with Zelem stepping up to fire it into the centre of the goal and make it 2-1, scoring her fourth in our last three home outings. 

Just like Skinner's side did in the first half, Everton looked to respond in immediate fashion, with defender Gabby George marauding forward before slicing a strike off target.

The Reds thought our advantage had been extended on 62 minutes when Thomas fired into an empty net after Maria Thorisdottir's initial header was saved, but the assistant referee's flag would go up for offside on the latter, with the lead subsequently staying at just one. 

The visitors looked to capitalise in the sequences that followed and Emslie went close to doubling the Toffees' tally as the game ticked into the final 20 minutes. The winger cut in from the right and curled just wide of the far post with a low left-footed effort.

But United would put the result beyond doubt with just over five minutes left to play. Zelem's corner from the right found the head of Russo, who nodded past the crowd of players in the box and into the net to make it 3-1 with her second of the game, and ninth of the league season.

Russo was replaced by Signe Bruun soon after and walked off to a standing ovation. Bruun nearly then left her mark on the occasion in the closing minutes, with an audacious attempt from range that was diverted away from the goal by an outstretched arm from MacIver in the Everton goal.

That would be the final opportunity of the game, with the final whistle going soon after to confirm another big three points in the race for Champions League qualification for United with four games to go. The Reds now have a three-point buffer on fourth-place Manchester City having played a match more.


United: Earps; Batlle, Ladd, Thorisdottir, Blundell; Zelem (c), Groenen (Moore 82); Thomas (Hanson 72), Toone (Boe Risa 89), Galton; Russo (Bruun 89). 

Subs not used: Baggaley, Harris, Jones. 

Booked: Thorisdottir. 

Scorers: Russo 35, 84, Zelem (pen) 54.

Everton: MacIver; Pattinson, Bjorn (Graham 46), Finnigan, George, Turner; Galli, Christiansen; Emslie, Duggan (Magill 67), Dali (Bennison 70). 

Subs not used: Brosnan, Clinton, Weir, Maier, Gauvin.

Booked: George.

Scorers: Emslie 4.