Manchester United Women 3 West Ham 0
Manchester United Women returned to third place in the WSL table following a comprehensive 3-0 home success against West Ham United.
A header from Martha Thomas and an own goal by Hammers defender Grace Fisk put the Reds in the driving seat early on, before Leah Galton added a third strike just minutes after the second half had resumed.
Ella Toone and Alessia Russo both had opportunities to add to the scoring, as Marc Skinner's side comfortably returned to winning ways.
The Reds climb back into the top three with just one game remaining; we complete our WSL schedule this season with a trip to the capital to face Chelsea next Sunday.
Ona Batlle was the first to test West Ham's goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold early on, as the Spanish international drove forward before her right-footed effort was well saved.
From the resulting corner, the away side failed to clear their lines with the ball breaking to Martha Thomas, as the 25-year-old was again denied by Arnold.
After 11 minutes played at Leigh Sports Village, the Reds did take a deserved lead, making the early dominance count. Zelem’s terrific forward pass found Galton down the left and her cross was wonderfully nodded home by fellow forward Martha Thomas.
Just eight minutes later, the Reds doubled their advantage, as Hammers defender Grace Fisk put through her own net.
Skinner’s side had swiftly moved through the pitch in the build-up with Thomas again involved. Aiming to pick out a team-mate, the ball eventually trickled into the Hammers' net to register the game's second goal.
Maria Thorisdottir then bravely put her body on the line to spare Hayley Ladd’s blushes. Lisa Evans’ right-footed strike was travelling at some speed before the Reds defender took a ball straight to her face.
With Skinner's side largely in charge as the first half rolled on, midfielders Zelem and Jackie Groenen continued to dominate the play, with West Ham having to rely on counter attacks to try and carve open their own opportunities.
Thorisdottir was again the hero for United before the break, blocking Tameka Yallop’s goal-bound effort after Batlle lost the ball to the visitors on the edge of the area.
As the second half began, the Reds wasted little time in making it 3-0 through the ever-threatening Galton. Alessia Russo picked up the ball on the right flank before picking out Galton unmarked, as our no.11 notched her eighth goal of the campaign.
The lead could have been extended just moments later, as Skinner’s side continued to come forward with Thomas denied her second of the afternoon thanks to a strong save from Arnold.
Russo and Toone then linked up on the edge of the area with just twenty minutes remaining, as the latter turned delightfully before curling her effort just marginally too high.
With the Hammers bidding to get back into the game late on, the Reds' defensive partnership of Thorisdottir and Ladd continued to stand tall, thwarting any potential advances.
Lucy Staniforth charged forward with just ten minutes remaining, with her right-footed cross appearing to strike Hawa Cissoko’s arm but the penalty claims were waved away. Her fellow substitute Kirsty Hanson was presented with a late opportunity to add a fourth goal, but the scoreline remained 3-0.
The victory for Skinner's team means the race for Champions League places will go to the final weekend and our trip to Chelsea, regardless of how our rivals Manchester City fare in their game in hand, at home to Birmingham City on Wednesday night.
Home win over the HammersGallery
Marc Skinner's side were comprehensive winners, seeing off West Ham 3-0 at Leigh Sports Village.
United: Earps; Batlle, Ladd, Thorisdottir, Blundell; Zelem (c), Groenen (F.Fuso, 82); Galton (Boe Risa, 71), Toone (Staniforth, 71), Thomas (Hanson, 63); Russo (Bruun, 71).
Subs not used: Baggaley, Harris, F.Fuso, Caldwell, Smith.
Goals: Thomas 11, Fisk o.g. 19, Galton 49.
West Ham: Arnold; Fisk, Cissoko, Longhurst; Wyne (Joel, 83), Hasegawa (Houssein, 83), Brynjarsdottir (Filis, 83), Yallop, Svitkova (Stringer, 73); Evans (Walker, 73), Leon.
Subs not used: Moore, Garrad.