Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool: Hayley Raso comes off bench to score winner
Substitute Hayley Raso scored the winner for Manchester City as they battled to victory over Liverpool in the Women’s Super League.
Raso pounced six minutes after coming on to restore City’s lead following Liverpool striker Katie Stengel’s equaliser in the first half.
Visitors Liverpool threatened and caused problems, though City had plenty of opportunity to add to their tally.
Khadija Shaw opened the scoring as City won their third successive WSL match.
Liverpool, who were promoted to the WSL after winning the Championship last season, stunned champions Chelsea to win on the opening weekend and threatened to take points off City at Academy Stadium.
Matt Beard’s side pressed and hurried City into making mistakes at the back, and it was England international Alex Greenwood who gave away possession to Stengel for their equaliser.
“Before they scored we were a little naive in our play. I wouldn’t say it’s confusion but decision-making,” said Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor.
“I thought we started the game really well. They are difficult to play against, there’s no doubt about that. We gave away far too many set-pieces and they have real weapons with that.
“We should have put the game to bed a lot quicker than we did, but it was great that Hayley [Raso] came on and made an impact within six minutes.
“She contributed again, then it was a case of seeing the game out as there were a few scary moments.”
Stengel’s equaliser cancelled out Shaw’s opener which she coolly slotted past goalkeeper Rachael Laws after a through ball from Lauren Hemp.
Jamaica international Shaw is in fine form with five goals in her past three WSL appearances and was denied on several occasions by Liverpool goalkeeper Laws.
Hemp was a constant threat down the left, while Chloe Kelly almost set up Laura Coombs and Shaw with dangerous balls in from the opposite wing.
Liverpool had a bright spell at the end of the first half when Missy Bo Kearns was denied from close range and Emma Koivisto was blocked at the back post by Coombs.
But City responded after the break to take control and put further pressure on Laws in goal.
They thought they had scored their second when defender Megan Campbell had to make a crucial goalline clearance to stop Hemp’s header going in, before Raso came on to fire into the roof of the net for what proved City’s winner.
A stunning save from Laws late on kept out Coombs at the back post to keep it at 2-1, and Liverpool almost equalised when Rhiannon Roberts’ header was scrambled clear in stoppage time.
Liverpool have now suffered four successive defeats in the WSL after winning their opening game, while City are building momentum with three wins in a row despite losing their first two matches.
“Matt [Beard] has a really well-organised team that work hard for him and fight to the end. They are always there. They won’t give up,” added Taylor.
“Liverpool have tenacious players and options from the bench. This was a vital three points to continue our run. It was all about the win.”
Shaw continues impressive form
Shaw came into this match in stunning form for Manchester City having scored a brace in each of their past two league victories over Leicester and Tottenham.
Her opener at Academy Stadium was her 15th goal in her 14th league start and she is clearly a player full of confidence as she took it well.
Hemp slid the ball precisely through a wall of Liverpool defenders and Shaw calmly placed it past goalkeeper Laws into the far corner.
The Jamaican continued to be a nuisance but it was Raso who stole the headlines with a lovely finish after reacting quickest to the rebound from her own effort – set up by Shaw.
Manchester City were made to work for their victory but have now extended their unbeaten record at home against Liverpool to seven WSL matches – they last dropped points against them at home in June 2016.
There were positives for Liverpool, however, as they ended a run of three games without scoring and almost came close to nicking a point away from home for the first time this season.
Defeat leaves them 10th in the table heading into a crucial run of fixtures against Aston Villa, Brighton and Reading.
“I thought we did well but probably the better team won,” said Liverpool boss Beard.
“We’ve had a difficult start. There’s plenty of positives we can take but we need to start turning these performances into points.
“The consistency in our performance levels are getting better every week. We have shown we can compete. The next six weeks will be vitally important and they will define our season.
“Hopefully we can take confidence from how far we pushed Manchester City.”
Liverpool were boosted by the return of summer signing Shanice van de Sanden from injury, who came on as a late substitute to make her debut in her second spell at the club.
The Netherlands forward could be a crucial addition to the squad during Liverpool’s next run of fixtures in the build-up to Christmas.
“She’s an unbelievable character in the dressing room. To have her back and available is brilliant for me. You saw her pace,” added Beard.
Man City Women
- 9KellySubstituted forRasoat 69′minutes
- 21ShawSubstituted forFowlerat 81′minutes
- 2KoivistoSubstituted forWardlawat 90′minutes
- 10FurnessSubstituted forvan de Sandenat 76′minutes
- 12HindsSubstituted forRobertsat 83′minutes
- 7KearnsSubstituted forHumphreyat 76′minutes
- 11LawleySubstituted forDanielsat 76′minutes
- 19van de Sanden
- Kirsty Dowle
Match ends, Manchester City Women 2, Liverpool Women 1.
Second Half ends, Manchester City Women 2, Liverpool Women 1.
Offside, Manchester City Women. Lauren Hemp tries a through ball, but Laura Coombs is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Rhiannon Roberts (Liverpool Women) header from very close range is blocked. Assisted by Katie Stengel with a headed pass.
Foul by Hayley Raso (Manchester City Women).
Jasmine Matthews (Liverpool Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Liverpool Women. Charlotte Wardlaw replaces Emma Koivisto.
Foul by Laura Coombs (Manchester City Women).
Emma Koivisto (Liverpool Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Niamh Fahey (Liverpool Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Foul by Alex Greenwood (Manchester City Women).
Katie Stengel (Liverpool Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Liverpool Women. Rhiannon Roberts replaces Taylor Hinds.
Substitution, Manchester City Women. Mary Fowler replaces Khadija Shaw.
Attempt missed. Lauren Hemp (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.
Attempt saved. Deyna Castellanos (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Laura Coombs.
Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Niamh Fahey.
Substitution, Liverpool Women. Shanice van de Sanden replaces Rachel Furness.
Substitution, Liverpool Women. Carla Humphrey replaces Missy Bo Kearns.
Substitution, Liverpool Women. Yana Daniels replaces Melissa Lawley.