Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United: Derby proves to be a walk in the Park for Cityzens

On the winning side in both of their prior clashes this season, including a landmark victory at Old Trafford in November, Gareth Taylor’s side completed their hat-trick of wins against Manchester City in the opening match of Women’s Football Weekend at Etihad Stadium.

Despite a late change to the starting lineup as the injured Laia Aleixandri was replaced by Alanna Kennedy, the Cityzens roared to a comfortable victory – inspired by two first-half goals from 22-year-old Jess Park.

Marc Skinner’s side clawed a goal back in the second half through a Kerstin Casparij own goal, albeit not before Khadija Shaw had further extended Manchester City’s lead less than a minute after the break. The Cityzens temporarily rise above Chelsea at the helm of the Barclays Women’s Super League table, with five games left to play.

As it happened

A sluggish start to proceedings saw the Red Devils force the better chances, with Khiara Keating called into action before the quarter-hour mark to deny Nikita Parris at the near post – and Ella Toone looked to tee up Geyse just moments later, though the Brazilian couldn’t put the ‘keeper to work on that occasion.

But two questionable challenges from Manchester United’s Hannah Blundell served to change the dynamic of the match. The left-back was shown a yellow card for a reckless challenge, and was lucky not to be dismissed for a second bookable offence three minutes later as she barged into Khadija Shaw to halt the Jamaican’s run.

Jess Park would prove to be the hero that Manchester City needed though, opening the scoring in the 37th minute – albeit in controversial circumstances. The young midfielder arrived in the box to turn home a well-placed cross from Leila Ouahabi, though replays showed that an offside Shaw had interfered with play earlier in the buildup.

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City had certainly found their rhythm, and it took just a further minute for them to bury the ball in the back of the net for a second time as Shaw turned home an edge-of-the-box strike from Alex Greenwood. This time, the Jamaican was correctly flagged offside – with City’s lead remaining at just the one goal.

On the stroke of the interval though, Park would double the Cityzens’ lead, and there could be no question about the legality of the strike this time around. A short corner found its way to Yui Hasegawa, with the Japanese midfielder floating a ball in towards Alex Greenwood, who flicked the ball on for Park to slam home past a dejected Mary Earps.

The goals continued to flow after the break, with Shaw curling a strike past Earps to open her tally just seconds into the half. Park was influential again, gliding through the midfield as if on skates before threading a ball through for the Jamaican – with Marc Skinner’s side left in disbelief after a shock start to the final period.

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Bad would seemingly turn to worse for the Red Devils, with Jayde Rivière forcibly withdrawn before the hour mark after requiring extensive attention for a knee injury – but Marc Skinner’s substitutions changed the tempo of the match, with the visitors able to force higher-quality chances as they headed into the final twenty minutes.

Fortuitous circumstances would see them claw a goal back in the 73rd minute, after prolonged play inside the City half ultimately saw the ball worked out to Blundell on the left flank. The left-back’s cross looked to be a dangerous one, and the Cityzens were made to pay the price for taking their foot off the gas as Kerstin Casparij inadvertently turned the ball past Keating.

In front of 40,086 fans at Etihad Stadium, Manchester City moved to claim provisional pole position in the race for the Barclays Women’s Super League title, with Chelsea not in action until 16:30 GMT on Sunday as they face West Ham at Chigwell Construction Stadium. Should the Blues prevail in East London, the Cityzens will drop back down to second-place as a result of their goal difference.

Casparij’s own goal proved to be too little, too late for the Red Devils though, as they fall to a third defeat of the season against Manchester City. Should Arsenal defeat Aston Villa at 18:45 GMT on Sunday, Marc Skinner’s side will find themselves a staggering nine points adrift of the European qualification spots.

The lineups

MCI: Keating; Ouahabi, Greenwood, Kennedy, Casparij; Coombs, Hasegawa, Park; Hemp, Shaw, Fowler

MUN: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, Riviere; Naalsund, Zelem; Geyse, Toone, García; Parris