City rise to second after hitting West Ham for six

Manchester City welcomed West Ham to the Academy Stadium on Sunday, as Gareth Taylor’s side looked to rise above Chelsea and claim second place in the Women’s Super League. As good as that might sound, a win would only send them a point ahead of Emma Hayes’ side – who would still have two games in hand over the Manchester outfit.

MCI: Keating; Morgan, Greenwood, Houghton, Casparij; Coombs, Hasegawa, Angeldahl; Hemp, Shaw, Kelly

WHU: Arnold; Smith, Cissoko, Fisk, Shimizu; Parker, Hayashi; Snerle, Brynjarsdottir, Evans; Asseyi

City looked to be the better of the two sides right from kick-off, and Kerstin Casparij was given space on the right flank to fire a cross in towards the box – but it was dealt with well by the visiting defence. The right-back was involved again just a minute later as she found Chloe Kelly with a sublime pass, and the forward then crossed towards Khadija Shaw in the centre of the box. The Jamaican planted her header over the crossbar, in a squandered chance that she really should have scored.

West Ham replicated that soon after, as Lisa Evans’ cross found the head of Viviane Asseyi – but once again, the forward directed her header over the horizontal under very little pressure. They were made to pay for that mistake, as Chloe Kelly fired the hosts into the lead two minutes later. Capitalising on a mistake from Hawa Cissoko, Kelly managed to chip the ‘keeper with an effort that nestled nicely in the bottom corner.

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One goal wasn’t enough for Chloe Kelly though, and she bagged another less than sixty seconds later after driving through the West Ham defence before firing a fabulous finish into the bottom corner. City had taken an early lead, and had done unbelievably well to double it and put the game to bed with just seven minutes on the clock.

Or had they? West Ham found a way back into the game four minutes later, as Emma Snerle curled a sensational effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to reduce the Irons’ deficit! The game died down for a little while after that goal, but it was none other than Chloe Kelly who looked to breathe life back into the game as her cross into the area met the head of Khadija Shaw once more. The Jamaican’s headed effort was on target this time, but Mackenzie Arnold did well to parry it away.

Laura Coombs made it 3-1 in the 25th minute, after diverting Lauren Hemp’s cross into the bottom corner with a great header from ten yards out or so. City had restored their two-goal buffer, but against a West Ham side that had proven they could be a danger, would that be enough?

Gareth Taylor’s side felt they should have been awarded a penalty soon after, as Chloe Kelly was hauled to the round inside the area by Hawa Cissoko – though the referee decided the defender hadn’t committed a foul, and allowed play to continue.

Khiara Keating had been called in to deputise for Ellie Roebuck as the first-choice ‘keeper nurses a knock, and she impressed in the 36th minute with a magnificent save from close-range to deny Lisa Evans. The winger’s attempt on the half-volley looked destined to find the back of the net, but a great reactionary save from Keating did well to prove her worth between the sticks.

City continued to push forwards in the second half as they look to reduce the gap in goal difference between them and the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. Lucy Parker was dispossessed on the edge of the box and Khadija Shaw looked to find the back of the net – but her effort took a deflection before ricocheting off the crossbar.

The Irons remained a danger too though, and Risa Shimzu did well to find Dagny Brynjarsdottir inside the box. The Icelandic international was allowed time on the ball, but her strike was ultimately fired wide of the far post.

City bagged their fourth in the 62nd minute, courtesy of Khadija Shaw who did well to turn quickly and fire a shot away to mark her seventeenth league goal of the season. Filippa Angeldahl was the creator, surging down the left before pulling the ball back to the forward who made no mistake.

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Amid rumours of a sensational return to the England setup, Steph Houghton also found the back of the net on her 35th birthday to send City four goals clear. Chloe Kelly looked to get her head on a corner at the near post, but it sailed over the forward to the far post, where Houghton was waiting to fire home with a simple tap-in.

Lisa Evans bagged next to bring the scoreline to 5-2, but with 72 minutes played, it seemed like nothing more than a consolation for the Hammers in the pouring northern rain. The forward danced into the penalty area before laying it off to Amalie Thestrup – though her effort was parried away by Khiara Keating. The rebound fell back to Evans though, and she powered it into the back of the net – aided by deflections off the post and the ‘keeper.

Chloe Kelly looked desperate to bag her third of the game, but the England star was denied by Mackenzie Arnold with fifteen minutes left to play as her curled effort from distance was pushed away with a fine fingertip save. The travelling ‘keeper was forced into action once more as Hayley Raso’s cross was flung towards goal by Yui Hasegawa, but a save at full-stretch saw it fly over the crossbar.

Mary Fowler bagged her first WSL goal in the 82nd minute to send City 6-2 up, as Chloe Kelly bagged an assist. Her corner was delivered with pinpoint accuracy to the Aussie, whose headed effort was sent through the legs of Dagny Brynsjardottir en-route to the back of the net.

Gareth Taylor’s side picked up all three points as the final whistle blew at the Academy Stadium, with the result moving them up to second in the league table. They’re unlikely to stay there for long though, as Chelsea sit just a point behind with two games in hand. Arsenal also have one game in hand over Taylor’s side, but will move into second if they win due to their superior goal difference.

Attendance: 2,649