Bunny Shaw hit a hat-trick as Manchester City Women ended the year with a convincing win on Merseyside to keep the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the WSL table. The Jamaican international also missed a penalty as the blues closed the gap to just three points.
Jill Roord was the other goalscorer as the blues recorded their fourth straight WSL win, and will go into the New Year full of optimism that they can claim their second WSL title.
Laura Coombs made her 100th appearance for the blues as she joined Roord and Yui Hasegawa in the middle of the park. Kerstin Casparij made a rare start and former captain Steph Houghton made a second-half appearance as the blues ended the year on a high.
But it could have been so different had the home side not converted an earlier chance, created due to some slack defending at the back from City. Italian striker Martina Piemonte was left in acres of space on the edge of the six yard box, but could only direct her header at Khiara Keating.
That would have changed the course of the game as, from there, City took over.
Lauren Hemp showed a great turn of pace to outrun the Everton defence, before being dragged back by Karen Holmgaard and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Shaw stepped up and saw Courtney Brosnan deflect her penalty wide to keep the scores level. Unfortunately for Brosnan, her efforts were proved in vain as the reprieve lasted less than a minute.
Leila Ouahabi’s brilliant ball forward eluded the Everton defence and Shaw’s deft lob caught Brosnan out and City were in front. It was an amazing finish from Bunny, who didn’t even look to know that Brosnan was off her line, and the hooked finish left the keeper with no chance of recovery.
And the Jamaican hit her eighth of the season and City’s second of the game on 22 minutes to underline City’s authority in the match. The lively Hasegawa found the striker on the edge of the box and her quick turn took her away from the Everton defence. Taking another touch, Shaw steadied herself before firing low past Brosnan into the corner of the goal to send City 2-0 clear.
City effectively wrapped the game up three minutes later when Roord provided the finish for an excellent team goal. Hasegawa released Chloe Kelly down the right and with the defence busy watching Shaw, the forgot about Roord who charged into the area and poked home the third.
The blues were looking dominant and good for a fourth straight victory, but Everton gave them a little run for their money. In the closing stages, Hanna Bennison saw her lobbed attempt beat Keating but not the post and in the second half, scored the goal of the game. Hasegawa’s poor clearance was hit first time by Aurora Galli, which flew past Keating to give the home fans hope.
That was snuffed out by Bunny’s treble nine minutes later as she moved clear at the top of the WSL scorer’s table whilst bagging City’s fourth of the afternoon. Coombs had almost marked her 100th appearance with a goal minutes earlier when her wicked shot cannoned off the bar, but Shaw would put the game beyond doubt in the 56th minute.
Kelly’s free-kick found Bunny at the far post, and the striker’s diving header went past Brosnan to complete the perfect hat-trick.
And with that goal, Shaw signed City’s 2023 off with style, and can now rest until they face Durham in the League Cup, before facing Liverpool on 21st January as the WSL season resumes.
Final Score: Everton Women 1-4 Manchester City Women