Manchester City Women 7, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2
Khadija Shaw scored four goals for Manchester City Women as they overtook Manchester United into third place in the WSL with a 7-2 win over Brighton.
With just two games in the Women’s Super League left and a two point gap between them and the Red half of Manchester in fourth, the wide margin of victory allowed City to build a 6 goal advantage over them which might be decisive at the end of the season where third place finishers earn the final Champions League spot for the WSL.
A double strike by Shaw and a tap-in by Caroline Weir threatened to make this game a procession after just 16 minutes as City raced into a early lead against Brighton.
City had multiple chances to extend that lead through Shaw, Weir, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, and Chloe Kelly but Brighton took the fight to City despite having few clear chances.
A penalty by Inessa Kaagman and a classic counter attack goal by Julia Zigiotti gave City cause for concern at the break.
Zigiotti passed up a chance to level things after half time – with Ellie Roebuck’s fingertip save preventing the Brighton equaliser after another break from the Seagulls.
But Brighton haven’t won any games in the WSL this term after conceding the first goal and City made sure they wouldn’t be taking any points home after Shaw hit another two goals and Alex Greenwood and Lauren Hemp gave the Blues a handsome goal difference boost in the chase for a top three spot in the WSL which looked unlikely earlier in the season.
City manager Gareth Taylor was delighted for the result and what it meant for striker Khadija ’Bunny’ Shaw who had a difficult start this season.
He said: “It was emphatic in the end, I thought we started really well and made opportunities and scored goals.
“I was a bit disappointed by their goals at half time and we had to rely on Ellie to make the save [for 3-3] but in general I was happy.
“With Bunny we have really good options at the top of the pitch, she and Ellen support watch other really well. Bunny is a good finisher and the levels she has to go up are huge.
“There’s been an adaptation period but hopefully this will do her confidence really well.
“It will have been an exciting game to watch – two teams having a really good go.
“Even six or seven down Brighton were still coming out.”
Brighton boss Hope Powell felt it was a good advert for the game even though the result went against them.
She said: “If I take any positive from today it was clawing our way back to 3-2 and the 3-3 that should have been.
“It highlights the gap between ourselves and a team of the magnitude of City.
“They were too much for us today.
“I can’t fault the effort and the attitude today – City were better than us – they moved the ball quicker and had better possession than us.
“We didn’t start playing till we were 3-0 down, we looked a bit tired – maybe end of season tired.”
Early goals sends Manchester City Women on their way to a big win over Brighton – with Khadioja Shaw scoring four times
Despite an injury-hit start to the season which saw boss Gareth Taylor under pressure and doubts over City’s ability to qualify for the Champions League next season with a third place finish, the Blues have hit top form and put together 11 straight wins to put themselves in the driving seat for Europe next term.
There didn’t seem to be much danger when Demi Stokes cut onside from the left flank but she was unchallenged as she skipped between three defenders and slid in Khadija Shaw for the opening goal after just three minutes – a fine strike from 12 yards out for the Jamaican.
Shaw was just behind play when Chloe Kelly served up a great cross from the right – missing out on a great chance to double that lead from the restart.
Shaw almost turned provider when she slid the ball to Lauren Hemp but the England winger pulled her shot wide.
Caroline Weir, whose future is the subject of debate at City with her contract coming to an end in the summer, was tackled just as she seemed to break at the half way line .
But City were irresistible and were 2-0 up after 12 minutes when Lucy Bronze found her with a cross into the six yard box and Shaw took a touch to control it before turning it in despite a touch off Brighton captain Victoria Williams.
And 16 minutes were on the clock when Weir released Hemp whose cross found Shaw in the box – her header was palmed away but Weir had the simplest of tap-ins from 2 yards out.
Shaw was just short of a great cross into the box by Hemp as City went to town on the Seagulls with another fine chance going begging.
Former City striker Lee Geum-min was brought down by Keira Walsh after 20 minutes for a penalty which Inessa Kaagman despatched into the left side of the goal as the action remained relentless.
Brighton had few chances aside from the penalty, Julia Zigiotti’s high volley into the area was well caught by Ellie Roebuck as the visitors committed to pressing City where possible.
But City were caught napping on the stroke of half time when Zigiotti netted a second goal for the Seagulls after Lee Geum-min broke down the right and cut the ball back for her team mate who slotted past Roebuck from 15 yards out.
A header by Kayleigh Green and a fingertip save by Ellie Roebuck from Zigiotti after another break down the right by Lee Geum-min and Kaagman after the restart showed that Brighton wanted an equaliser.
But City got over their nerves and Shaw soon had her hat trick with a slide rule pass by Walsh releasing Shaw to rifle home from just inside the box after 57 minutes.
And Shaw had four just four minutes later when she hit the ball into the roof of the net from Lauren Hemp’s cutback.
Gareth Taylor made his first change for City, bringing on Hayley Raso for Kelly who continued her comeback after injury with another encouraging hour on the pitch.
Caroline Weir turned provider twice in two minutes to make sure of the win – her corner was nodded home by Alex Greenwood after 68 minutes and soon afterwards she slid the ball through to Hemp who got herself on the scoresheet with a pinpoint strike inside the back post from 3 yards out and wide on the left to celebrate her 100th appearance for City.
Julie Blakstad, one of several City substitutions late in the game, fired wide as City looked for an eighth goal on a day when they could easily have hit ten.
GOALS – Manchester City Women 7, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2
Man City Women 1, Brighton Women 0: 3. Khadija Shaw finished with aplomb from 12 yards out after she was released by Demi Stokes following a mazy run from the left as the full back beat three players.
Man City Women 2, Brighton Women 0: 12. Khadija Shaw turned and rifled the ball home from 6 yards out after Lucy Bronze picked her out in the box.
Man City Women 3, Brighton Women 0: 16. Caroline Weir started and finished a great move for City which took in Lauren Hemp’s cross to find Bunny Shaw for a header that was only palmed away by Megan Walsh as far as the Scot for a 2 yard tap-in.
Man City Women 3, Brighton Women 1: 21. Inessa Kaagman put away a spot kick into left of the goal – sending Ellie Roebuck the wrong way – after Lee Guem-min was brought down by Ellie Roebuck.
Man City Women 3, Brighton Women 2: 45+1. Julia Zigiotti finished well from 15 yards out after a Brighton break had caught City on the hop – Lee Geum-min broke down the Brighton right and cut the ball back with City defenders in her wake.
Man City Women 4, Brighton Women 2: 57. Khadija Shaw rifled home a low shot from just inside the penalty area after Keira Walsh put her through with a slide rule pass.
Man City Women 5, Brighton Women 2: 61. Lauren Hemp cut the ball back from the left touchline and it was perfectly placed for Khadija Shaw to tap in from 7 yards out.
Man City Women 6, Brighton Women 2: 68. Caroline Weir’s corner was converted with a firm header by Alex Greenwood.
Man City Women 7. Brighton Women 2. 69. Lauren Hemp finished from an acute angle on the left edge of the 6 yard box – just 3 yards out – after Caroline Weir’s through ball sent her clear down the left.
MATCH STATS – Manchester City Women 7, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2
Man City Women: Roebuck, Bronze, Kennedy (Mace 73), Greenwood (C), Stokes, Walsh, Stanway, Weir (Angeldahl 78), Kelly (Raso 64), Hemp (Blakstad 73), Shaw (White 78)
Man City Women Subs not used: Keating, Taieb, Coombs
Goals: Shaw 3, 12, 57, 61; Weir 16; Greenwood 68; Hemp 69
Brighton Women: Walsh, Le Tissier, Kullberg, Williams (C) (Kerkdijk 62), Koivisto, Connolly (Simpkins 88), Zigiotti, Lee (Symonds 88), Kaagman, Carter (Whelan 72), Green
Brighton Women Subs not used: Startup, Gibbons, Bowman, Bance
Goals: Kaagman pen 21; Zigiotti 45
Referee: Amy Fearn