Man City Women 3 United Women 0
Manchester United fell to a 3-0 defeat against local rivals Manchester City in the Women’s Super League on Friday night.
At a cold Academy Stadium, the neighbouring sides went head to head in search for vital WSL points as both wanted to close the gap to Chelsea at the top.
In what was our third league meeting with City, it ended up being a disappointing night for Casey Stoney’s side. The hosts took the lead midway through the first half through Lucy Bronze, following a corner. Lauren Hemp doubled the lead with twenty minutes to go, before Caroline Weir's 84th-minute chip settled the score.
The derby defeat means United remain three points off league leaders Chelsea with our rivals overtaking us in the table as we fall to third place.
The Reds were looking to bounce back after the shock defeat to Reading in our last league match, whereas the Blues wanted to keep up their winning momentum. The hosts came into the derby with six straight wins, having not dropped any points since the 2-2 draw with United in November.
From the defeat against the Royals, Stoney made one change with Jackie Groenen replacing Kirsty Hanson in the starting line-up.
Like a proper Manchester derby, the encounter started with high intensity. However, during the opening ten minutes there were no shots at goal. City dominated possession early on but provided little threat to the United defence. At the other end, Christen Press was close to beating the offside line on seven minutes but the through-ball was too long for the American to reach.
The first real chance of the evening fell to the Reds after 17 minutes following a great attack. A long ball found Groenen on the left and the Dutch midfielder played Leah Galton through with an excellent pass. WSL’s Player of the Month for December then delivered a low cross into the box but her attempt to find a team-mate was cleared for a corner. Unfortunately, nothing came from the set-piece.
Five minutes later, City won themselves a corner which would result in them taking the lead. The initial cross was headed up in the air by Maria Thorisdottir, who was making her second start for United since her move from Chelsea. Following a set of aerial duels, the loose ball fell to Bronze, who found the back of the net with a deflected strike, leaving Mary Earps with no chance.
Shortly after, a cross from Georgia Stanway went just over United's bar and out for a goal kick.
Towards the end of the half, the Reds were inches away from an equaliser. A free kick into the box reached Galton on the left of the City area. The ball went back into the centre of the box and Hayley Ladd, from 10 yards, fired a shot on the half-volley just wide of the right post.
Another long set-piece delivery almost reached the head of Amy Turner but the ball was too far forward for our defender. Three minutes later, a cross from the right was headed towards goal by Press but Ellie Roebuck in the City net caught it comfortably.
A few moments later, Earps pulled off a great reaction save to deny Ellen White’s acrobatic bicycle kick attempt. Just before half time, Galton had to be subbed off with an injury, with Kirsty Hanson replacing our no. 11 for the final minutes before the interval. The substitute provided an instant threat, delivering a dangerous cross into the box but it was cleared for a throw-in in what was the last piece of action in the first half. United were trailing 1-0 at the break.
The hosts came firing out of the blocks in the second half. A cross from the left was met with an instinctive first-time shot from White but, as in the first half, Earps produced another excellent stop to deny the England forward.
Following the Blues' pressure in the early seconds, it was Stoney’s women who dominated the following minutes. Four minutes into the half, Press beat two City defenders as she cut inside from her left. The brilliant solo run ended with a shot towards goal but Roebuck stood firm to hold our attacker’s attempt.
Five minutes later, a long through-ball found the American behind the hosts' defence and Roebuck came way off her line. Our no. 24 attempted a spectacular lob from far out but the shot went over the bar.
As the derby edged towards an hour of play, Thorisdottir crossed from deep towards the back stick. The cross was headed up in the air and Press tried her luck with a powerful volley. The strike was heading towards goal but unfortunately it was deflected for a corner.
United kept the pressure on and as we looked for a crucial equaliser, Stoney made alterations from the bench. Jess Sigsworth came on for the final 20 minutes for Hayley Ladd, who was on a yellow card after a challenge in the first half.
Unfortunately, just seconds later, City doubled the lead. A shot from Chloe Kelly from the corner of the area was saved brilliantly by Earps. The rebound fell to Lauren Hemp who rifled in the hosts' second goal. Amy Turner did all she could to stop the shot from going in but the strike hit her head, then the crossbar, before it crossed the line.
Our no. 4 got in the way off a Stanway attempt on 78 minutes with a heroic headed clearance. Weir got on the end of the following corner but her half-volleyed shot was kept out by our showstopper.
On the following counter-attack, Press almost rounded Roebuck but the City keeper did well to deny the American from finding the net as she saved for a corner. Thorisdottir rose highest in the area but the Norwegian’s header went wide of the goal.
The Blues eventually rounded off the derby win with a clever chip by Weir. From the edge of the area, she found the far top corner behind Earps with a delicate finish in the 84th minute.
Ivana Fuso replaced Ella Toone for the closing moments and after five minutes of injury time, referee Abigail Byrne blew the full-time whistle and concluded a disappointing derby defeat for United.
United: Earps; Thorisdottir, A. Turner, M. Turner, Batlle; Zelem, Groenen, Ladd (Sigsworth 70); Toone (Fuso 88), Press, Galton (Hanson, 45).Substitutes not used: Bentley, Bourne, Harris, Jones, Ross.
Booked: Ladd.City: Roebuck; Bronze, Dahlkemper, Houghton (C), Greenwood; Walsh, Weir (Coombs 89), Stanway; Kelly, Hemp, White (Lavelle 85).
Substitutes not used: Bardsley, Taieb, Mannion, Park, Beckie, Morgan, Davies.Goals: Bronze 23, Hemp 70, Weir 84.
Referee: Abigail Byrne.