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Manchester City 6 (Scott 9, Christiansen 34,pen 75, Bronze 38, Parris 48, Stanway 78) Bristol Academy 1 (Weir 56)
Manchester City ensured that the WSL 1 title race will go to the wire and momentarily went top of the table after a convincing victory over Bristol Academy, whose relegation from the top flight was confirmed.
A brace from Isobel Christiansen plus goals from Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze, Nikita Parris and Georgia Stanway ensured the Blues leapfrogged Chelsea to the summit, before the Londoners regained top spot with victory at Liverpool later in the evening.
City headed into the clash knowing nothing less than a win would keep them in contention for the league crown with a feast of goals desired to close the goal difference gap. Equally, Bristol needed three points to stand any chance of avoiding relegation, though that would depend on other results.
Parris was the first to try her luck for the hosts but her ambitious long range attempt did little to trouble Mary Earps. City wouldn't have to wait long to break the deadlock though as a wonderful team move unlocked the Bristol defence on nine minutes. Krystle Johnston was the architect, floating an excellent crossfield ball to Natasha Harding, who headed into the path of Scott. The England midfielder, who scored for the Lionesses against Estonia on Monday, controlled well before drilling into the bottom corner.
Buoyed and relaxed by the opener, City became more and more comfortable in possession and laid siege to the Vixens' goal. Scott almost doubled her personal tally when she connected with Harding's cross but blazed her volley over the bar.
The hosts did clinch a two-goal cushion on 34 minutes though. Christiansen, fresh from making her goalscoring debut for England, was the one to find the net, firing in a deflected effort from Scott's chest down on the edge of the area. It was the midfielder's seventh of the season and fourth in as many games.
It was 3-0 before the break when Bronze converted after a spell of pinball in the box landed the ball at the feet of the defender, who applied the finish to give her side an unassailable half time lead.
The home side continued where they left off after the break and netted their fourth of the afternoon within three minutes of the restart as Parris ended her goal drought, smashing into the roof of the net at the second attempt.
Bristol then pulled one back as City fell victim to an uncharacteristic lapse of concentration. Bardsley did well at first to deny Caroline Weir but the Scotland international followed up with the rebound and the ball found its way over the line.
City responded well to the consolation. Christiansen and Jennifer Beattie both saw efforts trickle wide before the Blues restored their four-goal cushion when the referee awarded a penalty after Bronze was upended. Up stepped Christiansen to power in her second of the game from the spot.
The hosts would net a sixth just moments later. Substitute Stanway controlled Scott's low cross and fired into the bottom corner to seal an excellent victory for Cushing's side.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze (sub Abbie McManus 82mins), Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Natasha Harding (sub Daphne Corboz 61mins), Isobel Christiansen, Krystle Johnson, Nikita Parris (sub Georgia Stanway 57mins). Subs not used: Kathleen Radtke, Emma Lipman, Georgia Brougham, Alexandra McIver.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Loren Dykes, Frankie Brown, Hayley Ladd (sub Hannah Short 70mins), Marije Brummel (sub Tatiana Pinto 76mins), Sophie Ingle, Georgia Evans (sub Nadia Lawrence 88mins), Angharad James, Christie Murray, Caroline Weir, Jade Boho Sayo. Subs not used: Hannah Reid, Evodkia Popadinova, Sharla Passariello.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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