Manchester City Women continued their excellent run of form to dispose of West Ham United and keep the pressure on United in the race for third place. Goals from Georgia Stanway and Bunny Shaw secured the points for the blues, who now move level on points with the reds in third place.
The blues have just four games left to try and secure their place in next season’s Champions League and will be hoping for the reds to drop points in any of their remaining matches if they are to qualify. City must also win their remaining games and have received a boost to their squad as Chloe Kelly was named on the substitutes bench after almost a year out with injury.
It was a timely boost for the blues, who said goodbye to Janine Beckie, who left the club to join Portland Thorns, and just what City need going into the final run of games.
West Ham beat the blues 2-0 at the Academy Stadium in October at a time when the blues were struggling with injuries and an inability to find the back of the goal after a 4-0 win on the opening day of the season.
On that occasion, a mixture of poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping kept the blues at bay, but City have got into their stride in the second part of the season, and the Hammers were no match for them in this mood.
Hayley Raso rounded the keeper in the opening minutes following Lucy Bronze’s long pass, but her heavy touch meant the opportunity went begging. Bronze then set Shaw up with a chance moments later, but Mackenzie Arnold collected well under pressure.
Lauren Hemp then fired wide before Stanway gave the blues the lead in the eighth minute. The striker was found by Hemp, before playing a one-two with Raso, then firing into the bottom corner. It was no more than City deserved after dominating the opening exchanges.
City continued to press and could have had more, while the best chance the home side had was when Leon headed wide from a dangerous cross.
The Hammers went closer in the second half when Claudia Walker headed Lucy Parker’s cross wide, then had a goal disallowed for offside.
But City made sure of the points in the 63rd minute thanks to Shaw’s bullet header. Caroline Weir’s powerful shot was palmed behind for a corner by Arnold, and when the set-piece came in, Shaw headed past Arnold to make it 2-0 to City.
City went in search of more goals through Shaw, but the moment of he game must surely have been the long-awaited return of Kelly. The striker came on in the 59th minute, replacing Raso and the travelling supporters will have been delighted to see her on the pitch again.
The blues now hope Brighton can do them a favour when they visit United on Sunday, and now turn their attention to the FA Cup semi-final against West Ham, before welcoming Leicester to the Academy Stadium.
Final Score: West Ham United Women 0-2 Manchester City Women