Bunny Shaw grabbed another hattrick as Manchester City kept the pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal with a dominant win over Liverpool at the Joie Stadium. Shaw’s treble came either side of an own goal by former blue Gemma Bonner and Chloe Kelly, who converted a penalty to make it 5-1.
City’s goals came after Liverpool captain Taylor Hinds had given the visitors the lead against the run of play with a fine finish, but the goal only served to spur City on. Bonner’s own goal followed by a Shaw double put City 3-1 up at the break, with City camping out in the Liverpool half for the second forty-five.
It was the perfect result for City, who responded to Chelsea’s 3-1 win over United earlier in the day, and Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Everton on Saturday, which had seen the blues drop to third.
Gareth Taylor named an unchanged side from the one that beat Durham in the FA Cup last weekend, however, the manager was forced into a change just ten minutes in. Kerstin Casperij was forced off with injury, replaced by Esme Morgan, and just six minutes later, Liverpool went ahead.
Hinds was left in acres of space by the City defence and the Liverpool skipper floated he shot over Khiara Keating and into the back of the goal. It was the first real shot on target by the visitors, and came after Laura Coombs had been denied by visiting keeper Teagan Micah.
Shaw took advantage of some hesitation in the Liverpool defence, dispossessing the defender and setting up Coombs, who saw her shot saved by the Australian international.
Hinds’ goal did nothing more than wake the City side into action and just three minutes later, City were level. Morgan’s low cross into the box was turned into her own goal by Bonner to drag the blues level.
City continued to dominate without success, but the blues sensed hesitation and a little disorganisation in the Liverpool defence that could be exploited. In the 33rd minute, Shaw capitalised on a defensive mistake to put City ahead.
A low ball out by Micah gave Shaw a chance, and her quick thinking dispossessed Fuka Nagano, and the Jamaican calmly slotted home. City continued to dominate and limit the visitors to the midfield area or pin them back in their own half. Shaw saw another shot whistle over the bar, while Hemp set up Coombs, only for Micah to get a vital hand to the ball, turning it wide for a corner,
Deep into first-half injury time, Shaw added her second and City’s third and send the blues 3-1 in at the break. A short corner found Coombs and her cross was directed home by Shaw. Micah got a hand to it, but Shaw’s header was too powerful and all she could do was guide it onto the inside of the post and into the back of the goal.
City started the second half in the same manner as they finished the first. Chloe Kelly’s shot flew just wide, but Shaw completed her treble in the 55th minute. She needed three bites at the cherry, before cheekily back-heeling the ball, which trickled over the line.
The blues were home and dry and could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the gas. Instead, however, they went in search of more goals, with Kelly seeing her header tipped round the post by Micah. Khiara Keating, almost a spectator by this point, was called into action in the 66th minute to stop a promising Liverpool attack, before the blues caught up with Chelsea’s goal difference with a fifty.
hemp was set free down the middle with only the keeper to beat, but was brought to ground in the challenge. The keeper was booked and Hemp received several minutes of treatment, with concerns on her neck, before being allowed to sit up. As a precaution, the Lioness was withdrawn and City were awarded a penalty, despite replays showing the collision took place outside the area.
Kelly stepped up and rifled the ball home to make it 5-1. The blues could have had more, with substitute Angeldahl going close, but the girls had done enough to keep the gap at just three points.
Final Score: Manchester City Women 5-1 Liverpool Women