Match ends, Manchester United Women 1, Liverpool Women 2.
Man Utd 1-2 Liverpool: Hosts beaten and lose ground in WSL title race17 December 2023
Manchester United lost ground in the Women's Super League title race as rivals Liverpool came away with a superb victory at Leigh Sports Village in their final match of the year.
It is the first time Matt Beard's side have beaten United in the WSL and fifth-placed Liverpool move level on points with them, seven behind leaders Chelsea.
It looked like it could be a difficult afternoon for Liverpool when United took the lead within three minutes - Ella Toone pouncing on Leah Galton's pass after the winger's shot had come back off the post.
Melvine Malard should have made it 2-0 straight afterwards when she fired into the side-netting from close range with the goal gaping.
Liverpool responded well, battling through a first half riddled with errors, and got themselves back into the game when Mel Lawley's cross was flicked in by United defender Millie Turner for an own goal.
United struggled to deal with set-pieces throughout and that eventually proved costly as Liverpool defender Taylor Hinds bundled in the winner with the inside of her knee from Missy Bo Kearns' delivery.
The hosts pushed for an equaliser late on and Liverpool goalkeeper Teagan Micah blocked Hannah Blundell's strike, after substitute Rachel Williams' header flew over the bar.
There was lengthy stoppage time following a worrying head injury for Liverpool's Gemma Bonner, who left the pitch with blood across her face but was able to walk off with support from medical staff.
Manager Beard confirmed afterwards centre-back Bonner was expected to go to hospital for further treatment.
"I just went in to see her. She's OK. She's talking. She's getting her lip stitched but she doesn't remember the incident," he added.
Pressure mounts for United as Liverpool dig in
Liverpool's pre-season ambition was to close the gap on the WSL's top four and they knew they would draw level on points with United if they came away with a win on Sunday.
They were always going to have to ride their luck and dig in if they were to achieve it and that's what Beard's side did for the 113 minutes that were played in Leigh.
Goalkeeper Micah pulled off brilliant saves when needed, while her counterpart Mary Earps was equally as busy in United's goal - a superb fingertip save to stop Bo Kearns one of the highlights.
"It was a tough start for us. We nearly gifted them a second goal," said Beard.
"The way we recovered and the way we grew into the game, we were worthy of the three points. It's great to keep in touch with that top four or top five - so it was an important win.
"I know on our day we can compete and I think we've proven that a few times already this season. It's great to have targets. We are an ambitious football club but we take it game by game."
This is a concerning result for United.
It is the fifth time in the WSL this season they have dropped points, with two defeats and three draws just 10 games into an inconsistent campaign.
It will no doubt put pressure on manager Marc Skinner to turn results around as they go into the Christmas break trailing their rivals and already out of European competition.
"Both goals are poor [to concede]. We lose the game on two really poor goals. They took their moments and we didn't," said Skinner.
"We had chances to win the game at the end and we didn't take them. I'm frustrated by that performance and that we didn't do enough."
For Liverpool, this result shows their vast progress since a 6-0 defeat on their last trip to Leigh in the WSL in January and they end the year on a high, well on course to achieve their ambition.
Man Utd Women
- 4Le Tissier
- 21TurnerBooked at 29mins
- 12LaddSubstituted forNaalsundat 73'minutes
- 22ParrisSubstituted forGarcíaat 66'minutes
- 7TooneSubstituted forda Silva Ferreiraat 73'minutes
- 9MalardSubstituted forWilliamsat 66'minutes
- 23da Silva Ferreira
- 23BonnerBooked at 76minsSubstituted forKiernanat 87'minutes
- 2KoivistoBooked at 8mins
- 7KearnsSubstituted forHöbingerat 63'minutes
- 18HollandSubstituted forLundgaardat 90+3'minutes
- 11LawleySubstituted forvan de Sandenat 66'minutes
- 19van de Sanden
- Lauren Impey
Second Half ends, Manchester United Women 1, Liverpool Women 2.
This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/67673738?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA