Manchester City Women produced a dominant display as the beat Leicester City to qualify for the quarter-final of the Continental Cup. Lauren Hemp scored a first half brace, with Ellen White, Georgia Stanway and Vicky Losada all getting on the scoresheet as the blues continued their fine form in front of goal.
City went into the match knowing that a win would guarantee a quarter-final tie against Bristol City regardless of any other results. The blues were three points behind United and one ahead of their opponents, and defeat would have seen Leicester through at City’s expense.
Captain Steph Houghton started her first match since September and teenager Khaira Keating made her City debut in goal, with Laura Coombs, Caroline Weir and Bunny Shaw all missing the match through injury, but it didn’t matter as the blues took control of the match from the start.
On their last visit to Leicester, the City were a goal down within a minute, but came back to win the match 4-1. This time, City barely allowed the home side a sniff of their goal, keeping it tight at the back while again showing a desire and ruthlessness that had sorely been lacking in the first half of the season.
And, once White had given the blues the lead in the ninth minute, City never looked in danger of getting nothing but a win. The lively Jess Park was released down the right and her cross found White, who tucked home from close-range.
It was already City’s third chance at a goal after earlier misses from Stanway and Losada and the blues could have had even more before Hemp and Stanway struck to put the result beyond doubt. Hemp fired wide shortly after the opening goal, but was on hand in the 15th minute to head home another delivery from Park.
And, just as they did at Brighton at the weekend, City got another quick-fire goal to force Leicester heads to drop even further. It was Park again who created the chance for Stanway and the latter drove her shot into the bottom corner.
The home defence were all over the place and Park almost grabbed a fourth on 20 minutes. Leicester gave the ball away and Park pounced, only to see her shot palmed away by the keeper. But a fourth goal did eventually arrive on 35 minutes, and Hemp was again the scorer, converting Lucy Bronze’s cross.
A trademark Steph Houghton free kick hit the woodwork and Hemp was denied a hat-trick as the crossbar got in the way of her header and taking home the match ball.
But City did get a fifth two minutes into the second half. Losada was allowed the freedom to run at the Leicester defence and, spotting the keeper off her line, produce a sublime chip that landed in the back of the goal with the keeper desperately back-peddling.
Manager Gareth Taylor took both Houghton and Bronze off, replacing them with Ruby Mace and Demi Stokes, while Jill Scott and Janine Beckie came on for Keira Walsh and Hemp.
Stokes saw her shot beaten away by the keeper and City went close on a few occasions to put more past the beleaguered Foxes defence, but in the end, the blues ran out comfortable winners.
City must now prepare for the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday, before facing Bristol City four days later.
Final Score: Leicester City Women 0-5 Manchester City Women