Report: Brighton 0 United Women 4

Saturday 09 March 2024 19:49

Manchester United are into the semi-finals of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup for the second season in a row following Saturday evening’s 4-0 win over Brighton at the Broadfield Stadium.

Millie Turner’s far-post header in the eighth minute set the ball rolling for Marc Skinner’s Reds, with Nikita Parris doubling that lead with her 16th goal of the season across all competitions only 17 minutes into the tie. With other first half chances saved by ex-Red Sophie Baggaley in the Brighton goal, Lucia Garcia had United in dreamland by making it three before half-time.

Responding brilliantly to the disappointment of being held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham in the WSL last weekend, United continued to push for more goals after the interval and Lisa Naalsund netted a stunning fourth just shy of the hour mark. It was only more Baggaley saves and the woodwork that limited us to four.

A superb Melvine Malard did everything but score, engaging in what at times seemed like a personal battle with Baggaley, but coming away with two fine assists as we now wait to learn our next cup opponent in Tuesday morning’s semi-final draw (BBC Radio 5 Live, 8:20 GMT).

Millie Turner's early header set United on course for a thumping win.


Brighton looked keen to impress in front of their home fans in the early stages and were pressing high up the pitch to keep the visiting Reds, supported as usual by a very vocal band of loyal supporters making the long trip south, pinned in.

But an early sight of goal came when Garcia went chasing a ball over the top and won a corner with her attempted cross. Brighton could only partially clear Katie Zelem’s delivery from the right and, when Ella Toone played the ball back to the skipper, she cut onto her left foot and lofted a teasing ball towards the far post where Turner was there to meet it and head in.

Malard threatened a wondrous second for United when she controlled a cross on the volley, teed herself up with a knee and then fired towards goal without the ball touching the ground. It lacked the power to beat ex-Red Sophie Baggaley in the Brighton net, but the French forward soon turned provider, slipping in Parris with a beautifully weighted through ball down the left-hand side of the box. The composed first-time finish beyond the on-rushing Baggaley was indicative of the confidence flowing through our top scorer.

United were enjoying control as the first half progressed, able to play around the Brighton press. Naalsund went close with just over half an hour on the clock, picking the pocket of Julia Zigiotti Olme on the edge of the Seagulls’ box but putting the resulting effort just over the bar. Baggaley later denied Hannah Blundell a spectacular goal the day after the full-back extended her United contract, tipping a dipping volley from the edge of the box behind for a corner.

The third did come as the clock ticked into first half stoppage time, with Toone feeding Malard in a similar move to the earlier Parris goal. The finish from Malard struck the base of the post and trickled agonisingly along the line, but Garcia was on hand to poke the ball home.


United made a fast start to the second 45 with early chances as Parris miscued a finish and Malard soon forced Baggaley to parry to safety after being played in with a defence-splitting pass. With her name being sung by the travelling fans, Malard was denied again, this time by Baggaley’s legs at the near post.

There was absolutely nothing that the Brighton stopper could about Naalsund’s powerful strike. Our no.9 was again involved, controlling the ball with her back to goal in the box and laying it off to our Norwegian international. Naalsund shifted the ball onto her right foot and rifled her effort through the crowded penalty area, past Baggaley in a flash.

As the minutes ticked by, Mary Earps had mostly been a spectator for United, but Baggaley was still keeping Malard at bay, grasping a cushioned header from the French international. Moments later and into the final quarter of the game, she pulled off another save, tipping a curler from Parris wide of the far post. Off the bench, Irene Guerrero also went close to her first goal for the club, landing a header on top of the crossbar as Gemma Evans drilled in a cross from the left flank.

A little bit of late Brighton pressure ultimately saw them go no closer to dirtying Earps’s clean sheet and Garcia even put a good chance for a United fifth wide in stoppage time.


Brighton XI: Baggaley; Kullberg (Haley 55), Bergsvand, Thorisdottir, Bremer; Losada, Zigiotti Olme; Robinson, Pinto (Lee 78), Sarri (Carabali 55), Terland.

Unused substitutes: Startup, Li, Johnson, McEwen, Dent. 

Booked: Zigiotti Olme 58'. 

United XI: Earps; Riviere (Irene G. 77), Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell; Naalsund, Zelem; Garcia, Toone, Malard (Evans 77); Parris (Williams 77).

Unused substitutes: Tullis-Joyce, Mannion, Rabjohn, Aherne.

Goals: Turner 8'; Parris 17'; Garcia 45'; Naalsund 59'.