Manchester City 5 - 1 Liverpool
Manchester City: Bonner (OG) 19’, Shaw 32’, 45’+7, 56’, Kelly (pen) 78’
Liverpool: Hinds 15’
Liverpool return to WSL play after nearly a month off for the winter break. The Reds did get a run out last weekend in the FA Women’s Cup where they advanced past Bristol City with a late goal from Gemma Bonner. Liverpool faces another big task as they try to break into the European spots. A win will see them go even on points with Manchester City for third place in the table.
Matt Beard has seen quite a few players return from injury over the break, with the likes of Niamh Fahey and Yana Daniels back on the bench. Leanne Kiernan misses out with an injury and Ceri Holland is suspended after picking up two yellow cards against Bristol City. Missy Bo Kearns steps in for Holland, and Beard elects to go with the more physical presence of Natasha Flint up front to partner with Sophie Roman Haug over the likes of Shanice van de Sanden and Melissa Lawley.
Liverpool come out on the front foot and dominate possession of the ball over the opening five minutes. The Reds move the ball well through the middle third of the pitch but are unable to fashion any sort of attacking chances in the final third. Manchester City finally grab hold of the ball and keep it in the Liverpool defensive half for a good spell, forcing the Reds into several half clearances.
Manchester City are forced into an early substitution as Kerstin Casparij has to be withdrawn. She took a tumble several minutes earlier after a good challenge by Missy Bo Kearns, and the right back could not shake the knock. Esme Morgan comes on in her place.
Liverpool looking all out of sorts now. Bunny Shaw wins it too easily off of Jenna Clark, and the Jamaican international plays it to Lauren Hemp. Hemp’s shot is blocked by a sliding Liverpool defender, but he ball comes directly to Chloe Kelly on the right side of the box. She drives a low shot on goal but Teagan Micah is up to the task to get down and make the save.
GOAL LIVERPOOL!!!! Liverpool finally are able to break forward with the ball after being under pressure for quite some time. Emma Koivisto challenges for a ball high up the right side of the pitch and forces a rushed clearance. Liverpool won the follow up and tried to get it to Sophie Roman Haug at the edge of the box. Khiara Keating came out of her net to win the ball ahead of the Liverpool striker alongside a defender, but the challenge sent to ball to Taylor Hinds who calmly lobbed Keating as she scrambled back towards goal.
Goal Manchester City. The ball is worked down the right side of the pitch for City, played wide to Esme Morgan. She sends a dangerous cross into the box, looking for Bunny Shaw and Gemma Bonner is forced into and attempted clearance that is knocked past Teagan Micah for an own goal.
Goal Manchester City. Liverpool have made quite a few errors in the back with their passing and are finally punished for it. Tegan Michah rolls a pass to Fuka Nagano, but it’s a soft pass and Bunny Shaw is already on the run and picks it off and advances on goal immediately. Shaw makes no mistake in her 1v1 chance with Micah, burying the ball for a 2-1 lead to the home side.
While Manchester City have had more of the ball in the attacking half, Liverpool have shown they can cause a problem on the counter. Late in the first half the Reds charge forward in transition with the ball fed forward to Missy Bo Kearns down the left channel. The midfielder tries to bend a low ball across the box for the run of Natasha Flint. The ball is touched behind for a corner kick, and Marie Höbinger sends a dangerous ball in. Bunny Shaw goes down after hitting her head and play is stopped while she receives treatment.
For some reason, the referee decides to give a drop ball rather than a corner kick after Shaw is seen to. The Reds lose out and the opportunity is lost as the clock ticks into 6 minutes of added time.
Goal Manchester City. The clock has gone well past the 6 extra minutes, but the referee allows Manchester City to take a corner kick. The kick is taken short and then swung in for the head of Bunny Shaw. The striker puts it on goal as Teagan Micah flies across to try and make a flying save. Despite the great effort from the Liverpool keeper, the ball comes off of her fingertips bounces off of the post and in.
Matt Beard makes two changes to start the second half. Jasmine Matthews comes on for Jenna Clark and Shanice van de Sanden in brought on for Natasha Flint.
Shanice van de Sanden is getting involved a good bit early on in the second half. Liverpool are looking for her as she breaks forward with pace down the right wing. Shanice is also battling hard to win the ball back and is making herself a general nuisance to Manchester City.
Grace Fisk is shown the first yellow card of the match. She is on the wrong side of a Manchester City player and pulls the player back as she looks to tackle the ball away to stop a counter.
Goal Manchester City. Yet another error from Liverpool, or series of errors, leads to a goal. Taylor Hinds recovers the ball in her own box and dallies on the ball, allowing Chloe Kelly to cut off the passing angles. Hinds tries to play the ball past Kelly but slams it off of the legs of the Manchester City attacker instead. The ball deflects to Bunny Shaw in front of goal, who gets a couple bites of the apple before backheeling the ball in from close range. That completes a hat trick for Shaw on the day.
That’s the last touch for Shaw as she is substituted off after the goal. Laura Coombs also comes off as Mary Fowler and Filippa Angeldal come on in their respective places.
Shanice van de Sanden is still grinding away up top. A ball is played down the left wing for her to chase down. She just about gets to it at the end line but a defender cleans her out with a sliding challenge that also put the ball out of play. Inexplicably, the referee awards a goal kick.
Sophie Roman Haug has a chance to bring a goal back but is unable to beat the goalkeeper. A nice bit of play sees Shanice van de Sanden head the ball forward for Marie Höbinger, and the Austrian midfielder volleys the ball over a defender for Roman Haug to run onto in the box. The striker settles the ball with her first touch, but she fires the shot right at the goalkeeper.
Roman Haug has another opportunity at the top of the box just a couple of minutes later. This time the ball is played into her feet, but her first time shot is completely fluffed and skews well high and wide of the goal.
Sophie Lundgaard is brought on to get a run out in midfield. She replaces Missy Bo Kearns in the 73rd minute.
Teagan Micah absolutely gets away with one as Manchester City looked to have been through on goal. A defense splitting pass runs through for Lauren Hemp. Micah comes flying out of her goal and slides in an attempt to win the ball just outside of her box but she misses the ball and completely upends Hemp. The referee shows Micah a yellow card for what seemed to be a cut and dry denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
Hemp spends several minutes down after landing on hear head and neck. She is thankfully able to get up and walk off.
Ummm, ok, so the referee has now decided that the foul ended up with a penalty kick. That justifies the yellow card rather than a red card, but the foul was clearly outside of the box. Oh well. Chloe Kelly converts and its 5-1 to Manchester City.
Nimah Fahey comes on now in place of Grace Fisk. Welcome to the Thunderdome, skipper. Melissa Lawley also comes on for Sophie Roman Haug.
The referee shows no mercy to Liverpool as seven additional minutes are added on. Please just make it stop.
The sooner we forget about this one, the better. Liverpool were frequently the cause of their own demise in this match with some really poor turnovers and decision making in their defensive half. Manchester City absolutely made the Reds pay with five goals on their way to passing Arsenal for second in the table on goal difference. Speaking of Arsenal, Liverpool will host the Gunners next Sunday. Arsenal will certainly be out for blood after the Reds snuck away with a win at the Emirates in the opening match of the season.