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Manchester City 1 (Christiansen 32) Sunderland 0
Manchester City kept themselves in the hunt for the FA Women's Super League title with a crucial 1-0 win against Sunderland.
The clash marked the final WSL 1 game of the weekend and meant both sides headed into it aware of other results. With Chelsea having extended their lead at the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Notts County earlier in the day, a win was imperative in this encounter to keep the title race alive.
Possibly affected by the long wait for the game - and the Chelsea result - both sides started a little nervously. Sunderland carved out the first chance of the evening as Brooke Chaplen drilled goalward but Karen Bardsley was down well to make the stop.
The first half overall was fairly even with both sides creating decent chances to break the deadlock. Steph Houghton was unfortunate to see her header bounce just wide from Isobel Christiansen's delivery, while Christiansen and Georgia Stanway both tried their luck but found their efforts lacked the power and accuracy to trouble Rachael Laws.
At the other end, Bardsley was called into action once more, diving well to her near post to deny Abbey Joice before Houghton produced an excellent last-ditch challenge to prevent Chaplen a clear route to goal.
In an impressive defensive display, McManus, Jill Scott, Jennifer Beattie, Demi Stokes and Keira Walsh also did well to halt the first signs of a visitors' attack, limiting the away side to long range efforts and half chances. After Chaplen had tested Bardsley once again from distance, City took the lead somewhat against the run of play.
It was the in-form Christiansen who netted it. In a goal similar to the one she scored in the 2014 Continental Cup final, the midfielder rose to connect perfectly with Krystle Johnston's excellent delivery and head into the bottom corner to give the Blues a half time lead. A goal of quality, the strike was the 23-year-old's fifth of the season.
The second half began much as it had ended - with both sides enjoying spells of possession. Christiansen was unlucky not to net her second of the night when her shot was blocked, before Bardsley dived in bravely at the other end to prevent Chaplen from netting an equaliser. The dangerous Beth Mead was also thwarted by the England shot stopper.
Johnston then had two attempts well saved by Laws in the Sunderland goal before the home side opted to play keep ball to be safe of the points.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Abbie McManus, Jennifer Beattie, Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Isobel Christiansen, Krystle Johnston, Georgia Stanway (sub Natasha Flint 63mins), Natasha Harding. Subs not used: Alex Brooks, Georgia Broughman, Emma Lipman, Kathleen Radtke, Lucy Bronze.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Stephanie Bannon, Victoria Williams, Victoria Greenwell, Rachel Furness, Kelly McDougall (sub Sarah McFadden 84mins), Kiera Ramshaw (sub Emma Kelly 75mins), Brooke Chaplen, Abbey Joice, Beth Mead. Subs not used: Hilde Olsen, Megan Beer, Stephanie Roche, Gemma Wilson.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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