Manchester City Women secured their 7th straight victory as they brushed Sunderland aside at the Academy Stadium. Goals from Julie Blakstad, Hayley Raso and Bunny Shaw saw off the Lady Black Cats on a sunny afternoon that saw the City faithful lean their support to former blue Jill Scott, who appeared in the final of TV’s I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Manager Gareth Taylor restored Alex Greenwood to a starting line-up that also saw Steph Houghton don the blue shirt once more. Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck also returned to the starting 11 after missing the 2-1 victory at Everton last weekend.
The blues won their opening game of the group stage by beating Blackburn Rovers 6-0 at the Academy Stadium, and expectations were high as the holders aimed to take another step towards group qualification.
And they got off to the perfect start after just eight minutes. Greenwood’s corner was only half-cleared by the Sunderland defence. Shaw’s back header found Houghton, whose clever pass reached Filippa Angeldahl, who squared for Blakstad to tap home.
It was a lightning move by the blues and Sunderland had no time to react to the speed and slickness of City’s passing inside the penalty area, and Blakstad had the easiest of tap-ins to open the scoring.
Sunderland didn't let the blues have everything their own way and could have levelled from a corner of their own, when a glancing header went the right side of the post from a City perspective.
The blues had some glorious chances to put the match beyond the visitors by half-time, but both Shaw and Blakstad failed to connect to a Raso cross, while Esme Morgan headed wide when unmarked.
But any fears of a Sunderland comeback were dashed three minutes into the second half when Raso punished some poor defending. A ball forward was not dealt with by the Sunderland defence and Raso, with a heavily bandaged thigh, ran through on goal before slotting past the keeper.
11 minutes later and the blues made the match safe, thanks to another goal by Shaw. Houghton’s through ball split the Sunderland defence and Shaw ran through to slide the ball home to continue her rich goal-scoring vein.
City had some incredible chances to increase the lead further as they penned Sunderland back in their own half, with Raso having a goal disallowed for offside as City threatened to run riot.
Throughout the match, the faithful showed their support for Jill Scott as she aimed to be crowned ‘Queen of the Jungle,’ in ITV’s celebrity show filmed in Australia, by singing ‘She’s big, she’s blue, she’ll eat a kangaroo. Jill Scott, Jill Scott.’ Those were wise words as Jill was indeed crowned Queen of the Jungle. Well done Jill, thoroughly deserved.
City welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to the Academy Stadium on Sunday, before heading to Liverpool in the League Cup three days later.
Final Score: Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland