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HomeSportManchester United Women Lay Down Champions League Credentials With First Point Away...

Manchester United Women Lay Down Champions League Credentials With First Point Away To City Rivals – Forbes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 11: A general view inside the stadium as players of both side’s enter … [+] the pitch prior to the FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Manchester United Women’s put themselves in pole position to claim one of the top three positions in this women’s English Women’s Super League and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League by gaining an invaluable draw away to the team who have denied them third place last season, Manchester City.
Champions in 2016, Manchester City have consistently finished among the top three in the English league, alternating positions with Arsenal and Chelsea. The teams have occupied the top three positions in each of the last eight seasons. Manchester United Women, formed only in 2018, were promoted to the top tier in their first season and have since finished fourth behind the aforementioned teams at the end of each of their campaigns in the Barclays Women’s Super League, agonizingly missing out each time on the opportunity to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and access to the income it guarantees.
As in previous seasons, Manchester United had been early pacesetters in the league winning the first five matches without conceding a goal but when champions Chelsea defeated them at home, the fear was they would fade away once more, particularly when they trailed away to league leaders Arsenal late into their next game. Yet two late goals in that game gave them an unexpected victory and restored their belief. Victory over Aston Villa last weekend at Old Trafford has now been followed by this draw away to their bitter cross-town rivals in the Manchester Derby.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 11: The LED screen displays the attendance as 44,259 during the FA … [+] Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
The match toady was watched by a a crowd of 44,259 at the Etihad Stadium which is an all-time record for a women’s club match in Greater Manchester. 101 years ago, an estimated crowd of 35,000 watched Dick, Kerr Ladies defeat Bath Ladies at Old Trafford in January 1921. The previous Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium in September 2019 was watched by a then-record Barclays Women’s Super League attendance of 31,213. This season’s biggest crowd remains the 47,367 who attended the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in September.
Going into the game, the two Manchester clubs ranked first and second in the league for their percentage of short passes completed (90.6% for City, 89.8% for United) and it was City who dominated possession in the early stages with league top goalscorer Khadija Shaw particularly prominent.
Gradually, Manchester United began to break their opponent’s press and began to advance with pace on the counter-attack. In the 27th minute, Leah Galton and Ella Toone advanced down the left-hand side exchanging passes and positions before Toone squared the ball into the Manchester City penalty area from the left side for winger Galton to smash a shot which was deflected off defender Alex Greenwood beyond Ellie Roebuck. It was United’s first-ever goal away to their city rivals on their fourth visit.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 11: Leah Galton of Manchester United celebrates after scoring their … [+] first side goal during the FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen – The FA/The FA via Getty Images )
Manchester City, who going into the game were on a run of nine successive wins in all competitions, hit back in the second half. Midfielder Laura Coombs stooped to head home a Chloe Kelly cross in the 58th minute after it was missed by Shaw and defender Maya Le Tissier. It was Coombs fourth goal of the season so far, which added to her two assists, already make it the most productive Barclays Women’s Super League season in the 31-year-old’s career.
Within a minute England goalkeeper Mary Earps brilliantly held Shaw’s powerful header on the goal-line before her international understudy, City’s Roebuck made a similar close-range save from Martha Thomas’ header as both sides pressed for a late winning goal in a thrilling end-to-end finish to the match.
Speaking after the game, Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor praised Coombs all-round performance. “Laura did great today, she travelled a lot. She broke up a lot their play. She picked up a lot of good positions, she’s a tireless runner and we know she can score goals. Normally, her types of goals are the 30-yarders, so getting in the six-yard box with a header is great.”
Manchester United had lost all three of their previous matches away to Manchester City so the draw may prove to be a pivotal point in their season. Head coach Marc Skinner said the result demonstrated “the continuing change in mentality. At the end, we’re not happy with the fact that we’ve only taken a point. We’re disappointed with the goal we’ve conceded. We defended very well up to that point, and after that point.”
Reflecting on past disappointments in the two previous seasons when the team fell away after excelling in the first half of the season, Skinner contended that recent results prove “this Manchester United is different, they’re a different beast. It’s a team that now believes in what they’re doing fully.”
They remain three points ahead of the local rivals, with both clubs having played nine matches. With over half the season remaining to play, there is a long way to go in the race for a Champions League place but it seems the return match between the two sides at the end of May will be decisive.

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