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Manchester City 2 (McManus 4, Christiansen 52) Liverpool 1 (Dowie 19)
Manchester City secured their second win in the Continental Cup with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday night.
Goals from Abbie McManus and Issy Christiansen were enough to down the League Champions, who had drawn level with a Natasha Dowie header on 19 minutes.
On the back of their first win in the competition last weekend - a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Everton - the Blues headed into this encounter full of confidence and seeking another three points to add to their tally in Group Two. In the knowledge that only the winners and best runners-up from all three groups qualify for the semi finals, it was clear that every point claimed would be vital.
Prior to the game, manager Nick Cushing had highlighted the importance of gaining control from the off and his side secured the perfect start, opening the scoring with their first real attempt after just four minutes.
When Christiansen's cross was cleared to the edge of the area, there was no doubt in McManus' mind of her plans and the youngster unleashed an unstoppable effort on the half volley into the top corner. It was a strike of pure brilliance and well worthy of the celebrations that ensued.
Full of belief, the Blues then almost added to their joy shortly afterwards but Steph Houghton's header bounced wide.
From then on, it was the Reds' turn to enjoy a long spell of possession. The visitors were content to patiently build from the back but they struggled to create chances. That was until - following a series of crosses that zipped across the box - City couldn't clear their lines and were punished as Dowie, who netted against the Blues in the league encounter back in April, headed past Karen Bardsley.
The equaliser spurred the visitors on and City's shot stopper was again called into action as Liverpool pushed forward for a second. As Katrin Omarsdottir bore down on goal, there looked to be only one outcome but Bardsley produced a smart stop to deny the midfielder.
The Reds dominated proceedings for much of the first half and seemed content to play keep ball. City therefore were restricted to playing on the counter attack but when the opportunity arose, struggled to break down a stubborn defence and the score remained deadlocked at half time.
From the restart, Liverpool almost pounced within a minute. From a throw in, Dowie collected the ball and turned quickly but fortunately for the Blues, the angle was against her and her shot was off target.
On 52 minutes, the home side restored their lead. After Natasha Flint skipped past the Liverpool defence, she found Jill Scott, who in turn squared to Christiansen. Without hesitation, the midfielder curled a low effort into the bottom corner - another fine finish that was once again, acclaimed accordingly.
Having learnt from their experience in the first half, City knew they couldn't sit back and allow the Reds back into the clash. Five minutes later though, Dowie volleyed over the bar - another warning of the attacking threat the Merseyside outfit possess.
Clear cut chances were few and far between until the 67th minute, when the game sparked back into life. Scott headed a Toni Duggan cross wide and then with both teams desperate to find another goal, it was end-to-end action.
Bardsley had to be alert to keep out efforts from Martha Harris and Amanda Da Costa before Christiansen then spurned a glorious chance to give the Blues some breathing space. When yet another Liverpool attack broke down, City countered and Duggan sent the midfielder clean through on goal. With defenders trailing in her wake and only the goalkeeper to beat, a goal looked certain but Christiansen fired her shot straight at Libby Stout and the ball was cleared.
Bar a number of attempted through balls which were ruled offside, that was the last of City's bid for a third and Liverpool pressed for an equaliser. With a packed out defence, fighting for every ball though, the Blues held firm superbly and the visitors were unable to sniff out even a sight of goal. City hung on for a well-deserved win, providing further evidence of the Blues' continued development and improvement.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Nicki Harding (sub Krystle Johnston 30mins), Chelsea Nightingale, Jess Holbrook, Abbie McManus (sub Emma Lipman 81mins), Steph Houghton, Natasha Flint, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan (sub Danielle Young 77mins), Betsy Hassett, Issy Christiansen.
Liverpool: Libby Stout, Becky Easton (sub Ashley Hodson 85mins), Corina Schroder, Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Lucy Bronze, Amanda Da Costa, Katrin Omarsdottir, Natasha Dowie, Gemma Davison, Claudia Walker (sub Martha Harris 60mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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