Manchester City 2-0 Leicester City: Hemp and Kelly seal late win to go top of the WSL

Welcoming the Foxes to the Joie Stadium, Manchester City looked to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games with three points in Sunday’s Women’s Super League fixture set to take them level on points with league leaders, Chelsea – but their stay at the top would likely be brief as the Blues take on the Toffees at Kingsmeadow for a 6:45pm kick-off.

City remained unchanged from their last outing in the WSL that was against Tottenham – an Amy Turner own goal and Khadija Shaw strike secured the win at the Gaughan Group Stadium. Leicester were also coming into the game on a high having had back-to-back wins over Everton; once in the Women’s League Cup and once in the Women’s Super League. The last time Manchester City were defeated was in late November at the hands of Leicester City in the Conti Cup when the Foxes were victorious in the penalty shootout.

MCI: Keating; Casparij, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Ouahabi; Angeldahl, Hasegawa, Coombs; Kelly, Shaw, Hemp
LEI: Kop; Cayman, Howard, Thibaud, Nevin; Tierney, Takarada, Bott; Momiki, Rantala, O’Brien

Leicester got the game underway as they looked to repeat their success and cause upset at the Joie Stadium, but the hosts were quick to take control of the game, forcing the visitors to sit deep in defence. Kelly broke forward in the 9th minute but was taken down by Courtney Kevin who received the first yellow card of the game and conceded a free kick in doing so – Greenwood took the resulting set-piece, whipping a cross into the box, but it was headed clear.

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Continuing to put pressure on the Foxes‘ defence, Alex Greenwood played the ball up to her England teammate Lauren Hemp to chase at 12-minutes, but there was too much on it for the 23-year-old to reach with the ball rolling out for a goal kick. Kelly crossed the ball into the box at 17-minutes but couldn’t find the head of Laura Coombs as the chances kept coming in favour of the home side.

The first chance for the visitors came in the 22nd minute when Jutta Rantala broke forwards, escaping the restraints of City’s defence and finding the space to take her shot, but it went over the goal causing Keating no trouble.

Filippa Angeldahl picked up the ball on the edge of the box in the 27th minute, unleashing the hosts’ first shot on target as they continued in their quest to find the opening goal. Angeldahl proceeded to work hard for the Sky Blues, crossing the ball in from the right at 29-minutes, but despite stretching to meet the ball, Hemp couldn’t capitalise upon the opportunity to poke the ball past Kop at the far post.

Still goalless at the half-hour mark, Ouahabi crossed the ball to Khadija Shaw but she headed wide before a similar chance came for Hemp with Casparij providing the cross, but her header also went wide at 32-minutes.

The closest chance of the game came at 41-minutes when three Lionesses combined to test the Foxes’ defence – Lauren Hemp crossed the ball into the box to Chloe Kelly with the latter’s shot saved by Kop, the rebound falling to Laura Coombs who couldn’t collect from six yards out as the Leicester keeper came off her line to collect.

A lacklustre first half was brought to an end with the score level despite City dominating possession and limiting the visitors in their attack.

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The hosts began the second half with complete control of the ball once again, but with a lack of clear-cut chances until Kelly crossed the ball into the box form the right-hand side looking for Khadija Shaw – the danger was headed away. In the 56th minute, Leila Ouahabi played the ball in, this time from the left, as City still desperately searched for the opening goal of the game, but Filippa Angeldahl couldn’t slide in to meet it.

A challenge on Kerstin Casparij moments later saw Shannon O’Brien receive the third yellow card of the game, penalised for her foul with the resulting free kick taken by Alex Greenwood, falsely leading Khadija Shaw to believe she’d found the breakthrough. The ball fell to Shaw just in front of goal, but she tapped it into the back of the net from an offside position with the goal disallowed as the game remained 0-0.

Filippa Angeldahl went close again at 61-minutes with her shot from the edge of the area going through the hands of Liza Kop, but strong defending from the visitors saw CJ Bott clear it off the line before the City midfielder was replaced by England youngster, Jess Park. The 22-year-old brought a newfound energy to the Sky Blues in midfield with an incredible chance to take the lead presenting itself to the hosts in the 64th minute. Lauren Hemp’s pass across the pitch deflected into the path of Chloe Kelly who hurried forwards, threading in Khadija Shaw whose shot was thrashed off the post, the rebound of which fell to Laura Coombs, but the Leicester keeper was there to deny City as she scrambled across her goal, making the save as she pushed it clear.

A cross from Kelly found Jess Park in the 70th minute but the latter fired her shot over as the game entered the final 20 minutes with the Foxes having been unable to register a shot since the 22nd minute.
Leila Ouahabi won the corner on the left-hand side with Kelly taking the set-piece, crossing the ball to Shaw before it made its way over to the other side of the box with Alex Greenwood there to keep the chance alive, but the Sky Blues couldn’t make anything of it as it was eventually cleared by Leicester defenders.

At 82-minutes, the deadlock was broken. Khadija Shaw set up the goal as she got past her defender, crossing the ball to Lauren Hemp who produced an acrobatic overhead bicycle kick finish that trickled past Liza Kop to open the scoring.

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The scoring floodgates had opened with Chloe Kelly doubling the hosts’ advantage less than three minutes later with a mesmerising goal straight from a corner at 85-minutes that nestled into the far corner.

Manchester City’s deadline day signing Laura Blindkilde Brown made her debut in the 90th minute as the officials indicated that seven minutes would be added. A rare sight of the ball in the final third for Leicester saw Missy Goodwin work her way forwards, but she didn’t have have the ball for long as Alex Greenwood was there to dispossess her as the Sky Blues held onto their clean sheet.

Despite offering little in attack, the Foxes did well to prevent City for as long as they did with the resilience of Taylor’s side tested to find the two late goals. Three points with two goals scored sends City to the top of the Women’s Super League table – joint on points with Chelsea, but ahead on goal difference – as they record their seventh successive Women’s Super League victory.