Ruthless Russo rips apart the Foxes

Fresh off the back of a resounding 5-0 win against Durham in the FA Cup last weekend, Marc Skinner’s Manchester United side sought to maintain their WSL title charge with another three points against Leicester City – having managed a win against the Foxes earlier in the season. Mary Earps was celebrated ahead of kick-off at Leigh Sports Village, having won the FIFA Best Women’s Goalkeeper Award in Paris earlier in the week.

MUN: Earps (GK); Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, Batlle; Zelem (C), Ladd; Galton, Toone, Thomas; Russo

LEI: Leitzig (GK); Nevin, Howard, Plumptre, Reavill; Mace, Tierney; Green, Siemsen, Cain; Whelan (C)

United started well, with Le Tissier’s long ball over the top finding Martha Thomas – but her cross into the box was deflected just wide of the near post despite Alessia Russo’s best efforts to find the back of the net. Skinner’s side soon forced Janina Leitzig into action though, as Ella Toone’s ball into the box resulted in a flurry of chances, though the German matched them all.

Janina Leitzig produced a fine double save to keep the scores level – but she couldn’t recover fast enough to make the third, and Russo was finally able to bag the opener with just under fifteen minutes on the clock. There was some brilliant defending from the Foxes in the build-up, but United’s clinical striker eventually demonstrated why the Reds sit at the top of the table.

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Leicester did have their chances in the first half though – Hannah Cain managed to wiggle free on the left, but her curling shot was sent well wide of the far post. Remy Siemsen did well to work her way through the United defence and keep the ball in play, but her cross into the box was deflected out for a corner that was cleared well by Marc Skinner’s side.

It wasn’t to be for the Foxes though, and Alessia Russo headed Ona Batlle’s cross home at the far post – and Janina Leitzig was left with no chance of making the save. United were two goals ahead with just over thirty minutes played, and you couldn’t help but feel that they’d bag a few more throughout the course of the afternoon.

The hosts headed into half-time with a comfortable two-goal cushion, though Leicester’s Leitzig had done well to keep that figure low – United had managed a whopping eight shots on target throughout the first half.

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The Foxes caught United off-guard early on in the second half and managed to claw a goal back, as debutant Remy Siemsen worked her way through a switched-off defence before firing home towards the far post – bringing Leicester back into the contest with their first shot on target. Despite appeals for an offside, the goal stood as there is no VAR in use for WSL fixtures.

That didn’t last all too long though – as Alessia Russo fired home at the far post to complete her hat-trick in sensational style. What a way to respond to conceding! United kept pushing for a fourth, and Ella Toone worked her way into the box, but a vital sliding challenge from Ruby Mace denied the Red Devils another shot on goal.

United finally found their fourth through Leah Galton – who poked home from six yards out. Ella Toone should have added to their lead a minute later, but Leitzig produced a fine stop to deny the winger. The German was forced into action again soon after, with a double save denying the hosts a prime opportunity to extend their lead.

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A cross in from the right found Alessia Russo waiting in the centre of the box – but the England international was unable to find the back of the net, and her acrobatic attempt instead struck the woodwork. The striker received a remarkable round of applause as she was replaced by Rachel Williams within the final ten minutes.

United’s goalscoring wasn’t done there though, as Lucia Garcia found the bottom-right corner with just minutes left on the clock to send United 5-1 up. Nikita Parris could have made it six, but her shot from within the box was blazed over the crossbar – and Lucia Garcia’s strike from outside the area in injury time was parried away for a corner by Janina Leitzig.

Leicester return to the King Power empty handed – but a debut goal from Remy Siemsen has demonstrated the quality of yet another signing for the Foxes. Today’s clash at Leigh Sports Village could have quite easily turned into an embarrassing scoreline for Willie Kirk’s side, though a sensational performance from Janina Leitzig kept out the majority of United’s efforts on goal. Three points for the hosts today sees them remain at the top of the Women’s Super League, and a hat trick for Alessia Russo moves her up to third in the race for the Golden Boot with eight goals this season (Khadija Shaw and Rachel Daly are tied on 10).

Attendance: 3,623


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