Manchester United Women recorded their first win in the top flight with a comfortable 2-0 win over Liverpool at Leigh Sports Village.
An entertaining first half finished goalless, with United coming closest to breaking the deadlock. Anke Preuss produced a smart save from a Leah Galton effort to finish off a flowing Manchester United move, and Lauren James rattled the bar from a tight angle. Liverpool's sole threat was Rinsola Babajide, whose pace and power were causing Manchester United problems down the left hand side.
The second half saw the Red Devils begin to control proceedings. Preuss palmed a Katie Zelem free kick round the post, and was again called into action minutes later, swiftly coming out to thwart Dalton after a delightful Zelem pass.
United's dominance eventually paid off. Jess Sigworth fed James inside the Liverpool area, and the youngster showed all the composure in the world to calmly send a lunging Sophie Bradley-Aukland one way, before shuffling the other and burying the ball in the bottom corner.
The woodwork denied first Galton and then Ella Toone following Hayley Ladd's deep cross as Casey Stoney's side searched for a second goal to kill the game off. Victory was finally assured in the 92nd minute.
Dalton's darting run into the penalty area could only be halted by the outstretched leg of Niamh Fahey, who brought down the lively United winger. Zelem made no mistake from the spot to wrap up the three points for the Red Devils.
Key Talking Point
Manchester United went into the fixture without a win or goal all season, sitting rock bottom of the WSL on zero points.
However, the Red Devils had been impressive despite their lowly league position, only losing narrowly to last season’s double winners Manchester City and reigning league champions Arsenal.
This win finally saw them earn the points to reflect their performance.
Manchester United were excellent, knocking the ball around well and creating an assortment of opportunities. Casey Stoney's only concern will be that they should have had more. This is a game that United dominated, and should have come away with a greater margin of victory.
Starting XI: Earps (6); Smith (6); Turner (6); McManus (7); Oqvist (5); Ladd (7); Zelem (7); Toone (7); Sigworth (7); Galton (8); James (8*)
Subs: Turner (7); Hanson (6)
What a talent Lauren James is. The fact that she is just as effective at holding the ball up as she is at running at defences and getting in behind makes her a truly unique centre forward. James was excellent and Liverpool had no answers to her skill, strength and composure. Her goal typified everything that is special about her game.
James turns 18 tomorrow, and this season we could see her having an impact similar to that of Georgia Stanway when she burst onto the scene for Manchester City as a fresh faced 17-year-old.
Lauren James doesn’t turn 18 until tomorrow, but today she’s made her full WSL debut and marked it with a goal while adding fluidity and dynamism to inspire Man United to their first ever win in the division. Not a bad way to wave goodbye to 17 https://t.co/gQRSdIYbdg …— WBS SPORTS (@juniorezekielo) September 28, 2019
Key Talking Point
Liverpool went into the fixture on a wretched run of form, having slipped to 1-0 defeats against Reading and newly promoted Tottenham. They were then served a shock Continental Cup loss against Sheffield United of the Championship.
Today offered very little evidence that things are getting better at Liverpool. They created very little, and were fortunate to leave Manchester with a respectable scoreline thanks to the heroics of Anke Preuss in between the sticks.
Liverpool are a shadow of the side that won back to back WSL titles just five years ago. Something needs to change on Merseyside, and fast, otherwise relegation could well be on the cards this season.
Subs: Clarke (5); Linnett (5); Hodgson (5)
Anke Preuss did everything in her power to keep the scores level. The Liverpool keeper was in tremendous form, making a selection of fine saves to ensure Manchester United really had to work for this victory.
Anke Preuss is unreal. Always coming up big.— Katja (@applessquabble) September 28, 2019
Anke Preuss denies the home side again! This time the Liverpool keeper gets out well to block from Leah Galton, who was through one-on-one, inside the area.— Brighton Gaming🎙️⚽ (@Brighton_Gaming) September 28, 2019