Manchester United hosted their cross-city rivals on Sunday afternoon, in the first-ever Manchester Derby to be staged at the infamous Old Trafford. With 43,615 fans in attendance, a bumper crowd would be hoping to see the Red Devils add to their two-point gap over the Citizens.
MUN: Earps; Galton, Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell; Naalsund, Zelem, Toone; Geyse, Malard, Parris
MCI: Keating; Aleixandri, Greenwood, Kennedy, Ouahabi; Hasegawa, Roord; Hemp, Angeldahl, Kelly; Shaw
The opening stages of Sunday’s affair were largely dominated by Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City, who looked to create problems for their hosts from wide areas. An early corner had resulted in pinball, while Khadija Shaw and Alanna Kennedy both attempted to find the back of the net with headed efforts – though they were denied by Mary Earps and the roof of the net respectively.
But their control of the match would peter out after ten minutes or so, and the Red Devils seemed destined to find the opening goal when Geyse played Nikita Parris through on the right flank – but the winger was soon hacked down by City’s Alex Greenwood.
United’s next chance stemmed from an outrageous flick from Melvine Malard, allowing her to dance past Leila Ouahabi and commence a pacy run towards goal, though Ella Toone lacked the required power on the finish and scuffed her shot.
The Red Devils would take the lead from the penalty spot after 21 minutes though, with Katie Zelem dispatching a thunderous effort past Khiara Keating – who dived the right way after Malard’s curling strike had been handled inside the area by Greenwood.Embed from Getty Images
United looked to have overcome their shaky start, with Geyse the orchestrator of a number of attacks on the right flank, although Toone squandered another opportunity after pondering on the ball for too long. Marc Skinner’s Brazilian would not be deterred though, seemingly doubling their lead after salvaging Parris’ wide shot – but the referee judged the ball to have travelled out of play.
The controversy would mount moments later as City restored parity, with Chloe Kelly dancing past Lisa Naalsund before teeing up Jill Roord inside the area – and the Dutch international made no mistake with a simple finish from close range.
The tables would turn further just seconds after the equaliser, as Manchester City took the lead for the first time. Shaw had seen her first effort blocked after dispossessing Katie Zelem in a dangerous area, but did well to regain the ball and lay it out to her right for Lauren Hemp – who launched an audacious effort over Earps and into the net.Embed from Getty Images
Now with a vocal end behind them, Manchester City were keen to add a third before the interval as Kelly raced towards goal to find herself one-on-one with her international colleague, Earps. The goalkeeper prevailed through, palming her strike wide of the post to ensure the teams were separated by just the one goal at half-time.
A cagey start to the second half lacked any real chances, but just seconds after requiring treatment for a neck injury, Khadija Shaw extended Manchester City’s lead following an astronomical defensive mishap amongst the United ranks. Attempting to play a return pass to Earps, Maya Le Tissier saw the ball intercepted by the Jamaican – and capitalising on another Earps error, she dispatched a convincing effort into an empty net.
But when Laia Aleixandri was dismissed for a second yellow card offence after hauling Lucía García to the ground, United could smell blood – though the introduction of Rachel Williams would be somewhat negated by Gareth Taylor’s decision to withdraw Khadija Shaw for defence reinforcements in the shape of Kerstin Casparij.Embed from Getty Images
Eleven minutes of stoppage time would provide a few final chances for the hosts to change the outcome of their afternoon, with Jayde Rivière fashioning the best chance on the right flank, although Keating was equal to her tame dinked effort. Zelem too could have halved the deficit within additional time, looping a first time strike towards the far corner – but again, Keating remained unbeaten.
Alas, United had left it too late and the two-goal margin was simply too big to overcome – Gareth Taylor’s side leapfrog Manchester United in the league standings as a result, with the Red Devils dropping to fourth.
Manchester City will host Leicester City in midweek Conti Cup action, before welcoming Tottenham to the Joie Stadium next weekend. As for Manchester United, they’ll travel east to Liverpool before heading to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate.