Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners in Sunday’s derby with Manchester United in the WSL in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford.
The match was played in front of a United-record 43,615 people on a rain-soaked autumnal evening, with the visitors emerging as victors despite playing the final third of the game with one fewer player.
Gareth Taylor’s side have now moved above Sunday’s hosts into third in the WSL table, with Marc Skinner’s charges sitting in fourth, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur after their draw at Leicester City earlier in the day.
How the game unfolded
City spent much of the game’s opening controlling possession in the middle and final thirds. They nearly took the lead when Chloe Kelly’s whipped corner was headed on by Alex Greenwood, but the ball landed just on top of Mary Earps’ net.
The visitors went close again when a slick and direct move from the back eventually saw Filippa Angeldal slip through Bunny Shaw, whose fierce strike was denied by a strong save from Earps.
Most of United’s good work was coming through Melvine Malard, and her efforts were rewarded when her shot was blocked by the arm of Greenwood and the hosts received a 20th-minute penalty. Captain Katie Zelem stepped up and her shot found the bottom-left corner despite Khiara Keating getting a strong hand on it.
United thought they had doubled their lead on the half-hour mark. Geyse’s low cross into the path of Nikita Parris was blocked by Greenwood, but the Brazilian tried to keep the ball in play and found the net from the rebound, only for a late flag to go up and rule that it had indeed crossed the line. Confusingly, City were awarded a goal kick.
Moments later, City found their equaliser. Kelly danced her way infield from the right wing beyond Lisa Naalsund and teed up Jill Roord, who set herself and fooled Earps with a clever and low finish from just inside the 18-yard box.
Within seconds of kick-off, City had completely turned the game around. Zelem was robbed of possession by Yui Hasegawa, and though the United skipper recovered to block Shaw’s initial shot, the Jamaican quickly shifted the ball to Lauren Hemp and she was on hand to find the top corner with a stunning finish from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
Earps came to United’s rescue as City went in search of a third. Leila Ouahabi’s clever ball beyond the hosts’ backline found the run of Kelly, but her fizzing shot was somehow palmed away by her England teammate between the sticks.
After the break, City indeed found their third. Maya Le Tissier’s pass back to Earps was undercooked, and the goalkeeper’s clearance was blocked by the oncoming Shaw and the ball rolled into the back of the net.
With 20 minutes to go, United were handed a route back into the contest as City’s Laia Aleixandri was shown a second yellow card for a cynical tug on Lucia Garcia’s arm.
United’s first chance after City went down to ten saw Jayde Riviere take the ball off of Hemp and hand over possession to Garcia, who tested Keating with an effort from distance, but the teenager scampered back and pushed the shot behind.
11 minutes were added on at the end of the regulation 90 as United looked to find two unlikely goals. Garcia again went close when City failed to clear their lines, only for Ouahabi to block her half-volley, while Riviere was denied by Keating moments later.
But that was as close as United came to scoring again and City held on to secure a huge win at the home of their rivals.
GK: Mary Earps – 7/10 – Hard to put too much blame at her door for City’s third as there was little she could have realistically done with such a pass, exasperatingly muttering ‘what the f***’ in the aftermath. Kept United alive with some fine saves.
RB: Hannah Blundell – 5/10 – Caught in a storm by both Hemp and Kelly whenever they were in full flight.
CB: Maya Le Tissier – 3/10 – A rare mistake led to City’s third goal, but it proved to be a pivotal and costly one.
CB: Millie Turner – 6/10 – A little more solid than the defenders around her, but not enough to keep City at bay.
LB: Leah Galton – 5/10 – Pushed forward to a more natural position on the wing for the second half as United looked to claw their way back into the contest, but didn’t have much impact at either end.
CM: Lisa Naalsund – 5/10 – Skipped past far too easily leading up to City’s equaliser in the first half. Struggled to control the midfield battle.
CM: Katie Zelem – 5/10 – Nerves of steel from the spot but crucially lost the ball in the build-up to City’s second goal.
RM: Nikita Parris – 5/10 – Didn’t get into the game much as her attacking colleagues in her 45 minutes on the pitch and was replaced at the break.
AM: Ella Toone – 5/10 – Played on the fringes of the game, but when in possession failed to conjure up with any magic.
LM: Melvine Malard – 7/10 – Brought the Old Trafford crowd to their feet with a series of flicks and tricks, which ultimately led to the penalty for the opener. Withdrawn late on as her influence waned.
CF: Geyse – 7/10 – Put herself about and moved into the channels to ask questions of City. On another day, the assistant referee would have deemed her goal legal, but was unlucky for it to be called definitively out here.
SUB: Jayde Riviere (46′ for Parris) – 6/10 – Brought some needed energy to the battle but her efforts were in vain.
SUB: Lucia Garcia (68′ for Malard) – 6/10
SUB: Hinata Miyazawa (77′ for Toone) – 5/10
SUB: Rachel Williams (77′ for Naalsund) – 5/10
Subs not used: Safia Middleton-Patel (GK), Phallon Tullis-Joyce (GK), Gemma Evans, Hayley Ladd
Marc Skinner – 5/10 – Even with a one-player advantage, United struggled to consistently control the game and break City down
GK: Khiara Keating – 6/10 – Got a hand on Zelem’s penalty. Didn’t have too much to do for long stretches besides as act as a passing option from the back.
RB: Laia Aleixandri – 2/10 – Made a daft challenge on Garcia while already on a booking and with City not in any imminent danger. Fortunate that her teammates held their own late on.
CB: Alanna Kennedy – 7/10 – Defended with authority and was a useful outlet in playing from the back.
CB: Alex Greenwood – 7/10 – Guilty of handball for United’s opener from the penalty spot but recovered well and was solid for the most part.
LB: Leila Ouahabi – 6/10 – Poor in the build-up leading to the penalty, allowing Melard to come inside as she wished. Usually effective in possession, however.
CM: Yui Hasegawa – 7/10 – Played the game effortlessly at her own pace. Stole possession from midfield counterpart Zelem seconds before Hemp fired City in front.
CM: Jill Roord – 8/10 – The perfect partner for Hasegawa, bursting forward with purpose and grabbing the equaliser. So slick and cunning with the ball at her feet.
RM: Lauren Hemp – 8/10 – Continually swapped flanks with Kelly, but on the right is where Hemp had most success. A typically stunning finish put City ahead for the first time on the day.
AM: Filippa Angeldal – 7/10 – Flittered between the lines as City sought to control possession. Unlocked the United defence with some intelligent pieces of play.
LM: Chloe Kelly – 8/10 – Made light work of United’s defenders when afforded the opportunity to strut her stuff.
CF: Bunny Shaw – 9/10 – Caused all sorts of problems for United in a busy 76-minute showing. Deserving of her two goal contributions to cap off a fine outing.
SUB: Kerstin Casparij (76′ for Shaw) – 6/10
SUB: Steph Houghton (82′ for Hasegawa) – 6/10
SUB: Laura Coombs (82′ for Kelly) – 5/10
SUB: Mary Fowler (90′ for Hemp) – N/A
Subs not used: Sandy MacIver (GK), Esme Morgan, Deyna Castellanos, Jess Park, Julie Blakstad
Gareth Taylor – 8/10 – City were completely deserving of the three points and their performance will give them huge confidence moving forward.