Report: United Women 2 City 1
Marc Skinner celebrated his first derby victory as Manchester United manager after a late goal from Ona Batlle secured an important three points in the Conti Cup group stages for the Reds.
Manchester City had taken an early lead on Tuesday night at Leigh Sports Village, Vicky Losado scoring her third goal of the season with a thumping drive.
United's victory was a tale of determination and persistence. Ivana Ferreira Fuso levelled the score after half-an-hour with her second goal of this year's Continental Cup, but only after Kirsty Hanson had pursued a fumble from City goalkeeper Kamira Taieb.
A frantic, end-to-end second half followed, the highlight of which was Batlle's winner. The Spanish full-back followed Hanson's example, winning the ball back in the City area before finishing well to put United ahead.
It left a tense final 10 minutes for the thousands of supporters who turned out, but the Reds held out and Skinner's team now know they will definitely go through in the Cup if they can find another couple of wins against Leicester City and Everton.
Fewer than two minutes had gone when Vicky Losado powerfully drove an old-fashioned thumper past Sophie Baggaley with her right boot. It was an inspired moment of individual quality that gave City a fantastic early foundation which they used well.
United took some time to grow into the game, but began to do so after 20 minutes. Kirsty Hanson, starting on the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation, turned her marker well and drifted into the box dangerously. Her shot ruffled the sidenetting.
City could, and perhaps should, have seen their lead doubled when Hayley Raso was sent through by a wonderful defence-splitting pass. Raso couldn't control the bouncing ball sufficiently to keep her shot down.
Just after the half-hour mark, City goalkeeper Karima Taieb fumbled from a long United cross. Hanson put her under pressure and stole the loose ball away. She paused and then laid off gently for the on-running Ivana Ferreira Fuso who finished emphatically, high into the goal.
United dominated the early proceedings of a frenetic second half, but were unable to find clear-cut chances through the City defence. The visitors soon found their rhythm once again, although it stuttered with the regular changes made. The game opened up, and Marc Skinner turned to Alessia Russo early on after Martha Thomas picked up a knock. Soon it was Leah Galton and Ella Toone joining as well.
It became end-to-end and, in such an environment, United's many quick players thrived. Substitute Russo perhaps should have scored when given time in the box to shoot, right-footed, at Taieb. The 32-year-old 'keeper parried out for her defender Demi Stokes to clean up, but Ona Batlle showed great persistence and determination to outmuscle Stokes, steal the ball back and finish into the far left of the goal.
The grit. The determination. 💯@OnaBatlle secured three #ContiCup points in the derby 💪💪💪#MUWomen pic.twitter.com/p8ARqJsSDx— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) November 17, 2021
Tension mounted as City sought an equaliser to send the game to penalties. United cleared off the line after a scrappy, pinball chance in the 88th-minute, but managed to hold out for a crucial three points that sends the Reds second in Group B of the Conti Cup. Marc Skinner's side trail City by a point but have played one game less.
Batlle seals derby victoryGallery
Goals from Fuso and Batlle give United three points in the Conti Cup...
United XI: Baggaley; Batlle, Mannion, Thorisdottir, Smith [Blundell 77]; Boe Risa, Jones [Zelem 77]; Fuso [Galton 66], Staniforth, Hanson [Toone 66]; Thomas [Russo 51].
Unused subs: Earps.
Goals: F. Fuso 30, Batlle 82 | Losado 2