Manchester City retained their unbeaten Women’s Super League record against Manchester United after coming back to draw 1-1 with their rivals in front of more than 44,000 fans – a record for a women’s game at the Etihad.
United went into the match – the final league fixture for both sides this year – knowing a win would at least temporarily move them level on points with league leaders Chelsea.
Marc Skinner’s side looked like they would apply pressure onto Emma Hayes’ reigning champions when they took the lead in the 27th minute through Leah Galton, who applied the finishing touch to a free-flowing team move.
City had enjoyed the better of the first half up to that point but found themselves on the back foot for the rest of the opening period, with only a fine sliding challenge from Leila Ouahabi preventing Nikita Parris from doubling United’s lead.
United’s second almost came shortly after half-time, when City defender Alex Greenwood – playing against her former club – nearly fired the ball into her own goal as she cleared a cross with a diving header.
Fortunately for Greenwood, the ball flew just wide of the near post, and shortly after, she and her team-mates were level.
Chloe Kelly moved down the right wing before crossing into the United area, where Millie Turner missed her attempted clearance. Maya Le Tissier was caught out by her team-mate’s error, which allowed Laura Coombs the freedom of the six-yard box to nod City level.
Both sides went for a winner as the game moved towards full-time, with Kelly almost lobbing Mary Earps with a mishit cross and Khadija Shaw twice being denied by the United goalkeeper.
United also had chances to win the game, with Ellie Roebuck brilliantly denying Martha Thomas from close range, before the City keeper was brilliantly bailed out by Greenwood in stoppage time after she presented United with the ball inside her own area in stoppage time.
The result left United two points behind Chelsea ahead of the Blues’ game against Reading on Sunday evening – live on Sky Sports – while City are fourth.
‘Man City’s title challenge all but over’
Sky Sports News reporter Anton Toloui:
“Who does a point please? Manchester United will be disappointed they let a lead slip but pleased they kept the number of decent chances faced down to a minimum.
“Manchester City will be annoyed they couldn’t turn possession into effective plays. That’s seven dropped points for City so far this season, probably meaning their title challenge is over.
“For United, stay ahead of City in the league and they’ll almost certainly finish in the Champions League places.
“One thing is for certain, they go into 2023 with a three-point lead over their rivals. The final derby of the season will be vital.”
Taylor: We must win all our remaining games
Despite the deficit to the league leaders, City boss Gareth Taylor insists his side are continuing to target the league title as they look towards 2023.
“We want to win the league,” he said. “We want to put ourselves in a position to win the league and, if we win all our remaining games, we do it – simple as that.
“We’ve shown this season and last one that we can go on continual streaks. There’s lots of work to do but it’s the same for everyone and we’re looking forward to that challenge.
“We’re gelling and playing really well together, with a good group. It’s exciting – we’re in a good position in both competitions we’ve been competing in.”
Taylor also called the record-breaking Etihad crowd a “step forward”, saying: “The first half was a bit new to us – we tried to acclimatise as best we could. We couldn’t train here yesterday due to the weather conditions.
“It was brilliant to see all the supporters. I think it was a real step forward and both teams gave a really good account for themselves.”
Skinner: Disappointment with draw shows change in mentality
Manchester United boss Marc Skinner said his side should be pleased with a point, but the fact his players were disappointed at the end signalled a bigger shift at the club.
“I think it shows the continuing change in mentality,” he said on MUTV. “We’re not happy with the fact we’ve only taken a point. We’re disappointed with the goal we conceded. We’d defended well up until that point.
“I thought there were some excellent stand-out performances from every player but the reality is we’re disappointed. We wanted to win that game. This Manchester United is a different beast. We believe fully in what we’re doing.
“We’ve had a great first half of the year. We’d have loved to have taken three today but when we reflect we’ll be pleased with that.
“(The players) are gutted. They’re not coming off feeling we defended for our lives. They’re feeling we could have won that and we should have won that.”
Tottenham 0-2 West Ham: Spurs suffer third consecutive WSL defeat
Tottenham suffered a third consecutive WSL loss after second-half goals from Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Hawa Cissoko saw them beaten 2-0 at home by West Ham.
Hammers captain Brynjarsdottir had the chance to open the scoring in first-half stoppage time when the visitors were awarded a penalty after Spurs defender Kerys Harrop brought down Kate Longhurst with a wild sliding tackle.
But the Icelandic international dragged her penalty well wide of the post to see it remain goalless at half-time.
However, Brynjarsdottir immediately atoned for her spot-kick miss just four minutes into the second half as she smashed in from close range to give West Ham the lead.
Cissoko then made sure of the win in the 83rd minute as she scored on the counter-attack after being released one-on-one by Viviane Asseyi. The defender produced a dinked finish over goalkeeper Becky Spencer, who got a hand on it but it was not enough to keep the ball out of the net despite the attempts of Spurs defender Molly Bartrip on the line.
The win puts Paul Konchesky’s side four points behind fourth-place Manchester City, while Tottenham remain seventh.
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