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Manchester City 2 (Christiansen 44, Harding 75) Liverpool 0
Manchester City moved to within two points of FA Women's Super League leaders Chelsea with a 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Goals from Isobel Christiansen and Natasha Harding earned a thoroughly deserved triumph for the Blues, though the scoreline could easily have been more flattering.
In this - their game in hand - though, the claim of three points was all that mattered and few could complain on an excellent night for Nick Cushing's side, who dominated from start to finish. There were individual celebrations to savour too. Christiansen capped an incredible week with her sixth of the season, after netting the winner against Sunderland and receiving a call-up to the England squad, and Harding scored her first goal for the club to seal the win.
It was another impressive display to keep City in the hunt for the league title and prove their Champions League credentials.
The Blues knew a victory over the Reds was imperative to keep their title hopes alive - and the hosts started brightly, passing the ball around well without creating any clear-cut chances. Nikita Parris was the first to test Libby Stout in the Liverpool goal. The striker was played through by Christiansen but saw her shot blocked as the Reds shot-stopper was out quickly.
Chances were few and far between until around the half hour mark. Liverpool offered little to nothing in the opening half, while the Blues created more as they grew in confidence. Jill Scott headed over the bar and Jennifer Beattie hit the woodwork, while Harding fired two efforts goalward which lacked the pace to cause any real trouble.
Christiansen then drove a powerful attempt towards the top corner which Stout was once again equal to before the home side broke the deadlock at the end of the half. Bronze was the creator, driving down the wing as she had throughout, and cutting back for the in-form Christiansen to smash into the bottom corner and give City a half time lead.
Scott had almost doubled it before the break with a shot from distance which flew just over the bar, so the home side took a deserved but slender 1-0 advantage into the dressing room.
City continued where they left off after the restart. Within a minute, Parris forced Stout into another stop, cutting inside and curling an effort which was tipped over, and then Scott laid off for Christiansen whose first time attempt was unfortunately straight at the Reds goalkeeper.
A corner then caused chaos in the Liverpool box as the ball was cleared off the line by Martha Harris, and Harding was once again denied by Stout at close range.
Well on top and inspired by the hard working midfield trio of Scott, Christiansen and Keira Walsh, the Blues continued to press but had to wait until fifteen minutes from time to secure the points as substitute Georgia Stanway raced clear down the left before crossing for Harding to convert at the near post for her first goal in City colours.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Isobel Christiansen, Krystle Johnston (sub Georgia Stanway 69mins), Natasha Harding, Nikita Parris. Subs not used: Alex Brooks, Georgina Brougham, Emma Lipman, Paula Radtke, Natasha Flint, Abbie McManus.
Liverpool: Libby Stout, Martha Harris, Gemma Bonner, Kate Longhurst (sub Katie Zelem 64mins), Katrin Omarsdottir, Natasha Dowie, Line Smorsgard (sub Ashley Hodson 57mins), Rosie White, Ingrid Ryland, Lucy Staniforth (sub Majumi Pacheco 80mins), Satara Murray. Sub not used: Rachel Darbyshire.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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