Manchester United ensured their WSL title race will continue on the final day of the season with a 2-1 derby victory over 10-man Manchester City.
With leaders Chelsea beating Arsenal 2-0 earlier in the day, had United dropped points, Emma Hayes’ Blues would have been crowned champions without scoring a goal.
Hayley Ladd’s stunning strike put the home side ahead inside the first two minutes and in between Chloe Kelly hitting the crossbar twice, City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck was sent off for a reckless challenge on Nikita Parris.
The visitors got back into the game when Philippa Angeldahl’s cross fell over the line after a misjudge by Mary Earps, but Lucia Garcia delighted a packed Leigh Sports Village with a dramatic winner in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.
United remain second, two points adrift of Chelsea ahead of next Saturday’s final day, knowing that a win against Liverpool and a defeat for the Blues means either a defeat at Reading or a draw with six goal swings, will increase their victory. title instead.
The result also means fourth-placed City are unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League. They need to win their last game against Everton, hoping Arsenal will lose at home to Villa and extend their 11-goal run.
Manchester United. Earps (6), Battle (8), Le Tissier (7), Turner (7), Blundell (7), Ladd (8), Zelem (7), Paris (7), Toon (5), Galton (6) , Rousseau (5)
Subs: Williams (5), Garcia (7), Thomas (n/a)
Manchester City. Roebuck (4), Morgan (5), Houghton (5), Greenwood (6), Wahabi (5), Hasegawa (5), Angeldahl (7), Kelly (7), Coombs (5), Hamp (5), show (7)
Subs: Keating (6), Rasso (5), Castellanos (f/h)
Player of the Match: Ona Batlle
How Manchester United kept the title race going
“United” started mercilessly. Mark Skinner’s side knew their brief and immediately set about executing it.
Former City striker Paris made a threatening early break and stayed on his feet superbly after being thrown off balance. The ball then found its way to Ladd who rolled the ball in front of him and fired an unstoppable effort into the top right corner where Roebuck was rooted to the spot.
But a relentless start lasted the full 15 minutes, allowing City to take the lead for the first time. Hare Shaw dragged the ball away from a challenge and saw a fierce shot blocked but the visitors held on and Chloe Kelly rattled the underside of the crossbar after connecting with a loose ball.
Right before the break, the tone of the derby changed completely. Paris was released in behind the City defense and was red-carded after Roebuck raced out of the area to clear him. Laila Wahabi was sacrificed and replaced by 18-year-old Khiara Keating.
Surprisingly, United did not come out of the trap after the break. Instead, within five minutes of the restart, Alex Greenwood struck with a tantalizing free-kick which Kelly met with a powerful header against the post. They were also denied a penalty when a Lady foul on Shaw went unpunished.
- Mark Skinner fielded an unchanged side as Manchester United looked for a win that would take the WSL title race to the final day of the season. It was the same team that beat Chelsea 1-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 14 May.
- Meanwhile, Manchester City made one change to the team that suffered their title race defeat to Liverpool last Sunday. Gareth Taylor brought full-back Leila Wahabi back into the City defense with Kerstin Kasparij dropping to the bench.
With just over 20 minutes to play, City equalized. Angeldahl floated in a cross from the right that picked out Earps, the ball flew over the keeper’s head and into the net through the left post. They could have won as well in the final minutes of the 90s if an incredible slide by Maia Le Tissier had not prevented Shaw.
However, United are not done. Hannah Blundell clipped a cross to the back post that Vilde Bo Risa kept alive and Garcia kept her cool to reach the six yard box and fire the winner past Keating.
The best player of the match – Ona Butle
Manchester United Head to Liverpool on Saturday 27th May for the final day of the Women’s Super League Manchester City finish their campaign at home to Everton. Both matches will start at 14:30.