Manchester City Women turned in a devasting second half display to thrash neighbours United and keep Manchester blue in the process. Goals by Lauren Hemp, Ellen White, Caroline Weir and Bunny Shaw saw the blues come back to win 4-1 after Katie Zelem had given the home side a 1-0 lead.
The blues welcomed back their Lionesses who had competed in the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup and went into the match on the back of a 1-0 WSL victory over United at the Academy Stadium. And, with a place in the FA Cup quarter final at stake, City were eager to inflict another defeat on their neighbours, this time in their own back yard.
City lost 2-1 at United in the League Cup earlier in the season and drew 2-2 in the league in a match that saw Georgia Stanway sent off and the blues taking the lead. United came back to go 2-1 in front, but an Ellen White goal ensured a share of the spoils.
But that was during a period where City just couldn’t end up on the winning side as a huge injury list dented their WSL hopes. Since the return of key players such as Lucy Bronze, Ellie Roebuck and Caroline Weir, the blues have rediscovered some of the form that took them to the runners-up spot last season and has carried them to this season’s League Cup final.
Sunday’s match was a chance to continue the improvement, but it didn’t start too well for the blues. Ellie Roebuck was forced into making a decent save before a United corner by Zelem eluded everyone and fell into the back of the goal.
The blues didn’t have too much to celebrate in the first half as they were kept at bay by United, but the second half saw a complete turnaround. Weir, United’s tormentor-in-chief- was introduced in place of Vicky Losada, and Hayley Raso replaced Jess Park and suddenly, City looked a different team. And within five minutes of the second half, City were level.
Australian star Raso tore down the right flank and crossed into the area. White got a touch, but the ball fell kindly to Hemp and the youngster steered the ball home to make it 1-1. Eight minutes later, White was gifted the opportunity score thanks to a horrible mistake in the United defence.
Hannah Blundell’s weak header failed to go anywhere except to White, and the England striker pounced, rounding Mary Earps and slotting home into an empty net to make it 2-1. Two minutes later, Weir was on hand to deliver another crushing blow to the reds.
Hemp’s ball into the box found the Scot in acres of space inside the area, and she had time to control before firing under Earps and into the goal to send City 3-1 up. The United keeper, beaten at her near post, really should have done much better, allowing the ball to squirm from her grasp and into the net.
The blues completed the scoring on 79 minutes through substitute Shaw. Weir’s pass found Raso on the right and her charging run was unchallenged until she reached the edge of the area. The ball fell to Julie Blakstad, whose shot was parried by Earps, but only as far as Shaw, who thumped home City’s fourth, and their passage to the last eight was complete.
Blakstad thought she’d opened her City account in the final minutes as she slotted home after Raso’s shot had been parried, but the referee disallowed it for a foul on Ona Batlle.
It was a stunning victory for the blues as they continued to dominate Mancunian football nd ensuring Manchester remains blue. City will find out their quarter final opponents when the draw is made on Tuesday. Amongst those in the hat are familiar Chelsea and Arsenal, along with Everton, West Ham and Birmingham City. Coventry United Ladies also make the last eight and Ipswich Town Women make the quarter finals after beating Southampton Women 4-2 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 in extra time.
Final Score: Manchester United Women 1-4 Manchester City Women