Caroline Weir was Manchester United’s nemesis for a third season running as the midfielder scored a goal of the season contender to give Manchester City a crucial 1-0 victory over their rivals.
Weir’s 81st minute long-range chip over Mary Earps was even better than the one she produced in last year’s derby and the rocket shot that won it at the Etihad in 2018. Both of those goals were nominated for the Puskas Award and the Scotland international may just have earned herself another with today’s winner.
It was a record attendance of 5,317 at the Academy Stadium and for a long time it looked like they would be going home without seeing a goal. But Weir came off the bench to produce the bit of quality they had been waiting for.
History was made today when Manchester City hosted Manchester United in the WSL
The two sides played in front of a sell out crowd at the Academy Stadium on Sunday afternoon
‘I think it was a year yesterday when she did that in the fixture here last season,’ City boss Taylor said. ‘It was a different feeling today because that was special in itself, but having the supporters here and a full house, record crowd, it just felt amazing.
‘The celebration was great and I arguably think that probably is a better execution than last season which was some goal. Just more so because she was under pressure from a couple of United players. To execute that type of finish under pressure is really difficult.
‘It was a really dominant performance, our pressing was good, we really limited United to very few moments. I’m really delighted for the players because they deserved that.’
Gareth Taylor’s side claimed a 1-0 victory thanks to a late goal from Caroline Weir (above)
City’s victory has huge ramifications in the title race. They are now just two points behind United, who could be over taken by Tottenham or Reading later today. There is still a long way to go, but psychologically this could hamper United’s bid for Europe. They are still yet to beat their rivals in a league match and they deserved nothing from this game.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Roebuck, Bronze, Kennedy, Houghton, Stokes, Walsh, Losada (Weir75), Stanway, Park (Raso 84), Hemp, White
Subs not used: Keating, Beckie, Angeldahl, Raso, Shaw, Mace, Blakstad
Goals: Weir 81
Manager: Gareth Taylor
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Earps, Batlle, Thorisdottir, Caldwell, Blundell, Boe Risa (Thomas 64), Ladd, Zelem, Toone, Russo (Hanson 78), Bruun (Fuso 90)
Subs not used: Baggaley, Harris, Fuso, Groenen, Smith, Jones
Manager: Marc Skinner
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
‘Today will be a massive fuel for us, I’ve no doubt about that,’ said a defiant United boss Marc Skinner.
‘I’ve asked them [the players] to feel it after the game, feel what it feels like. Because they’re disappointed, they’re devastated in the result but feel it because that’s the fuel for when you play them next time.’
City have dominated the women’s game in these parts for the last seven years, with United only reforming their female team in 2018. But it has been the Red Devils who have led the way this season, with Skinner’s side starting the day five points ahead of their rivals.
Part of the reason for City’s league position, and the eight point gap between them and leaders Arsenal, is that they have had to contend with multiple injuries to key players throughout the campaign. But they have also under-performed. However, they were by far the better team here and could have been three or four goals ahead at half-time.
The first chance inside five minutes as Vicky Losada’s volley from the edge of the box flew just over the bar.
But an even better opportunity came two minutes later when Jess Park’s sublime pass found Lauren Hemp at the back-post, but the forward somehow tapped over the bar from two-yards out.
Hemp was causing problems for United and full-back Ona Batlle. The winger drove past the Spaniard down the left before crossing for Ellen White but the striker was beaten to the ball by Mary Earps at the near post.
White then headed over Vicky Losada’s corner just past the half hour mark before Hemp had another chance before half-time, but the winger could only head Lucy Bronze’s cross into the hands of Earps.
City continued to dominate possession at the start of the second half with United struggling to build up any rhythm. Another chance fell to the hosts when Demi Stokes sent a fizzing cross into the middle, but Park could only get a slight touch on the ball before Earps gathered.
Weir sensationally chipped the ball over United goalkeeper Mary Earps (pictured in action above) from long range
Manchester City dominated the game having had 70 percent of the possession and 18 shots
Park was in the thick of things again as she came agonisingly close to opening the scoring. The tricky winger cut in from the right with a smart turn before curling a shot that beat Earps but hit the post.
United finally tested Roebuck at the other end shortly after as Ella Toone fired a shot at goal, but the City keeper was able to make the save before her defence cleared. Martha Thomas then headed Katie Zelem’s corner wide as the visitors finally showed some attacking intent.
But it was a brief venture in their opponent’s half and finally their resistance was broken by Weir’s wonder goal in the 81st minute.
The midfielder picked up a loose ball mid-way into the United half and ran forward before chipping into the top right corner over the despairing dive of Earps.
United could have equalised almost instantly when a cross was played into the box but Signe Bruun was unable to apply the finishing touch.
United could have equalised almost instantly when a cross was played into the box but Signe Bruun was unable to apply the finishing touch
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