Report: Everton Women 0 United Women 2
Manchester United Women guaranteed progress to the quarter-finals of the 2021/22 Continental Cup with an accomplished 2-0 victory over Everton Women at Walton Hall Park.
Both goals arrived in the space of three minutes midway through the first half, with Danielle Turner bundling a Katie Zelem free-kick into her own net to give us the lead on 20 minutes.
Martha Thomas then combined with Zelem to double our lead and that’s how the scoring finished, with manager Marc Skinner using a relatively uneventful second period to rotate his squad and get some minutes into the legs of his substitutes.
Manchester City’s tie with Leicester City was postponed on Wednesday, meaning our final position in Group B is still to be settled, although if our city rivals do retake top spot with a win over the Foxes we will still qualify for the last eight, as the best second-placed side in competition.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes to the game on Merseyside, Leah Galton had the first shot on target, heading straight at Toffees’ keeper Courtney Brosnan following good work out wide from Thomas.
Kirsty Hanson then had a sighter, again gathered by Brosnan, but the Reds were becoming increasingly dominant in possession, with captain Zelem particularly pulling the strings from a deep midfield position.
United’s no.10 deserved much of the credit for our 20th-minute opener, although it would not be her name being penned on the scoresheet.
When Galton was brought down on the left by Lucy Graham, earning the Everton player a booking, Zelem fizzed the resulting free-kick across the near post, where Turner could do little but divert it in.
Thomas then saw a header loop on to the crossbar almost immediately from the restart but United’s no.9 wouldn’t have to wait long to celebrate.
Prior to kick-off, Skinner emphasised the need for his side to be ‘clean’ in both boxes and he will surely have been delighted with the ruthless way Thomas slotted beyond Brosnan after a sleek one-two with Zelem.
The Toffees, previously unbeaten in four games – a run which included the 1-1 league draw between the sides last month – had little answer to United in the opening 45 minutes, with Sophie Baggaley untested in the visitors’ goal.
It looked like the Reds would pick up where we left off after the sides switched halves. Referee Leigh Doughty had barely blown his whistle when Hanson gathered possession on the right before striking a 20-yard effort on to the woodwork.
But Everton, having introduced three new faces at the break, also came out brightly with Anna Anvegard soon forcing Baggaley to get down at her near post to smother a shot.
The home side began to look much more co-ordinated in their press, pinning United back and looking to force us into mistakes in our defensive third.
They still struggled to create clear-cut chances though, with Anvegard heading over, and were also vulnerable to quick United breaks, the most threatening coming when Galton cut in from the left before firing wide.
A raft of substitutions made between the 60th and 75th minutes did little to help the game’s rhythm and the Reds were able to close out the win and clean sheet in comfort.
Everton: Brosnan; Maier, Bjorn, George, D. Turner; Christiansen (Sevecke 66), Galli (Finnigan 67); Graham (Magill 46), Bennison (Anvegard 46), Pattinson (Dali 46); Clinton.
Subs not used: MacIver, Duggan.
Bookings: Graham, Bjorn
United: Baggaley; Batlle, Mannion, M. Turner (Blundell 61), Smith (Thorisdottir 61); Zelem, Toone; Hanson (Staniforth 73), Ferreira Fuso (Boe Risa 80), Galton; Thomas (Russo 46).
Subs not used: Earps, Ladd, Murphy.
Goals: D. Turner own goal 20, Thomas 23