Manchester City Women comprehensively beat Aston Villa to earn their first home league win of the season. Second half goals by Caroline Weir, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp and a brace from Hayley Raso secured another big win against Villa at the Academy Stadium.
After losing successive matches again, this time to Chelsea and Manchester United, the pressure was on manager Gareth Taylor for his team to produce even a modicum of the form that took them to within two points of the WSL title last season.
Sitting three points above the blues, Villa were hoping to avoid the sort of beating that saw the blues score fifteen goals in two matches last season. And for a while, it looked like they would frustrate City and hammer what could have been the final nail into Taylor’s City coffin, and another home defeat, or even a draw would surely have seen the end of his tenure.
City started the match on the front foot, attacking Villa at every opportunity, but found visiting keeper Hannah Hampton in the mood to put in a good performance. Hampton saved well from a Hemp chance as early as the tenth minute.
But for all their possession, City couldn’t manage a meaningful attempt on target after that until two minutes before the break. Jill Scott rose above the Villa defence to head across goal towards Ellen White, but the England striker was denied by a brilliant block by Hampton at point-blank range.
It looked set to be another irritating afternoon for the blues, but that changed three minutes after the break, and, unsurprisingly, it came from an assist by Hemp. The winger was released down the left and her cut-back found Weir. Taking a touch, the Scot then curled her shot into the top corner to give City the lead.
It was just the tonic that City needed and with momentum in their favour, City should have made it 2-0 moments later, but Filippa Angeldahl’s shot was blocked by Mayumi Pacheco. It was Hemp again who played the Swede in, but it didn’t matter seconds later as the blues scored from the resulting corner.
Villa failed to clear the corner and, after a scramble in the penalty area, Stanway poked home to give City some breathing space. However, the visitors made a game of it and pressed City back for a period, with Alisha Lehmann calling Taieb into action.
The City keeper was eager to keep a clean sheet for only the second time this season, and a first in the WSL since the opening weekend and will have been delighted when City scored three in the space of four minutes to finally kill off the opposition.
Raso grabbed her first City goal as she capitalised on an error by Hampton. The Villa shot-stopper tried to prevent a corner, but only succeeded in playing the ball straight to Raso, who finished via a deflection to make it 3-0.
Hemp then got in on the goalscoring act as she made it 4-0, with Raso the architect. Her cut-back was met by Hemp at the far post, and the winger made no mistake, thumping home just a minute later.
The two sort of combined again two minutes later to complete Villa’s misery. Hemp’s shot cannoned off the bar and the rebound fell to Raso, who fired home goal number five of the afternoon.
City move up to sixth in the league, moving above their beaten rivals on goal difference as Taylor lives to fight another day.
Final score: Manchester City Women 5-0 Aston Villa Women