United Women 3 Tottenham Women 0
Manchester United leapfrogged last season's Championship rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Women's Super League on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a fine 3-0 victory in misty conditions at Leigh Sports Village.
A dominant, possession-controlling performance from Casey Stoney’s side limited the Lilywhites' attacks at the other end and the only blemish on the afternoon's proceedings was the red card awarded to Ella Toone in the final moments of the game.
Millie Turner, Jackie Groenen and Leah Galton all returned to the United starting eleven as Ella Toone, Martha Harris and Kirsty Hanson moved to the bench after Wednesday night’s Continental League Cup win over Brighton.
It was clear from the start that the midfield trio of Galton, Groenen and Zelem were dangerous and they soon began to cause problems for the away side. Groenen found Zelem with a crossfield pass, and in turn, the United captain delivered a ball to Galton at the back post but her header was straight at the keeper.
Another chance fell to United to open the scoring when the ball arrived at Zelem's feet on the edge of the penalty area but although the skipper calmly set herself before striking the ball, the shot was too tame to trouble Morgan in the Spurs goal.
On the stroke of half-time, Jane Ross found space in the 18-yard box and her powerful strike directed towards the bottom left corner forced Morgan into pushing the ball wide of the post, for the first corner of the match. The final incident of the half was a yellow card given to Kirsty Smith for a challenge that denied Spurs a counter-attacking opportunity.
As the second half kicked off, the United players continued to put pressure on the Tottenham defence with dangerous crosses being delivered from Sigsworth and Groenen in wide positions, but nobody in a red shirt was able to put the ball in the net.
Two minutes later, United were provided with the opportunity of opening the scoring after a scuffle in the penalty area resulted in the referee pointing to the spot. Katie Zelem stepped up and slotted away her fourth goal this season.
Both teams looked to the bench early in the second half with Jane Ross being replaced by Kirsty Hanson for United, and Spurs' Angela Addison and Lucy Quinn making way for Kit Graham and Rosella Ayane.
On the hour mark, United grabbed the second goal of the game as a corner was whipped in by Zelem, causing problems for the Spurs defence who struggled to clear and Sigsworth was on hand to prod the ball home. Tottenham almost responded instantly with a quick kick-off and struck the crossbar with an audacious effort from long range.
Casey Stoney introduced Ella Toone and Martha Harris for defensive insurance in the 70th minute as the pair replaced Millie Turner and Groenen.
Zelem fired home her second goal of the game in the closing stages. A foul on the edge of the area from Hannah Godfrey saw her name enter the referee’s book and it turned from bad to worse for Tottenham as Zelem lifted the free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net to put the icing on the cake for United.
As the game entered injury time, a red card was shown to Toone by referee Edward Duckworth following a brief flare-up with the Spurs players but this was really only a footnote to a fine afternoon's work for Stoney's Reds.
United: Earps, Smith, Turner, McManus, Turner (Harris 70), Ladd, Zelem (captain), Groenen (Toone 70), Galton, Ross (Hanson 55), Sigsworth.
Tottenham: Morgan, Green (captain), Godfrey, Percival, Addison (Graham 50), Quinn (Ayane 55), Davison, Neville, Filbey, Dean, Mitchel.
Goals: Zelem 2, Sigsworth