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Leicester Women 1 Manchester United Women 3

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Manchester United Women’s winning start under Marc Skinner continued on Sunday afternoon with an impressive 3-1 victory over Leicester City.

Ella Toone’s first-half rocket, plus maiden goals for the club by substitutes Maria Thorisdottir and Martha Thomas, secured all three points from an entertaining WSL game staged at King Power Stadium.

Leicester’s only goal also came with a United connection, as it was headed home by Abbie McManus – one of three ex-Reds in action for the Foxes, the others being Jess Sigsworth and Charlie Devlin.

King Power pics gallery

View official photos from United Women’s away clash with Leicester City…

If the newly promoted hosts were expected to race out of the blocks with enthusiasm, it was quite the opposite as the Reds sought to provide an early reminder of the level Leicester now find themselves at.

Kirsty Hanson forced Foxes goalkeeper Kirstie Levell to make an impressive stop inside the first 50 seconds. At the other end, Sigsworth – facing her former team-mates for the first time – was unable to keep her shot down under pressure from Millie Turner. 

Leicester’s Salford-born forward Natasha Flint fared better with the ball at her feet, when she unleashed a low drive that Mary Earps had to push away by diving to her right. 

Turner, an unused sub for United’s opening win over Reading, was injured in the course of that attack and sadly had to be stretchered off with Thorisdottir coming on as her 15th-minute replacement.

Concern for their injured colleague seemed to disrupt United’s rhythm for a while but a fierce Lucy Staniforth shot that Levell had to beat away cued a more settled period, during which the opening goal was scored.

Toone’s 36th-minute strike from outside the area was terrific, flashing past the helpless Levell to give Ona Batlle’s long-ranger against Reading an early rival in the Goal of the Month stakes.

The same no.7 could have also notched an assist before the interval had Hanson, receiving her pass to the right, not lifted her shot high above the crossbar.

As eight minutes of first-half injury time unfolded, another former Red, Devlin, joined Sigsworth in the Foxes’ attack as a substitute for Paige Bailey-Gayle. But it was Galton who almost grabbed the next goal, prodding United’s last shot before the break against the base of a post.

As per the beginning of the game, the Reds were again on the front foot as the second half kicked off. When Staniforth’s header from Zelem’s left-wing corner was only half-cleared by Leicester’s defence, Thorisdottir followed up to finish emphatically and register her first goal for the Reds since her January transfer from Chelsea.

Galton continued to be a threat on the Reds’ left flank, creating another opportunity that Staniforth slotted wide. But just when it seemed the Foxes would purely play second fiddle to Skinner’s side, they forged an attack of their own and Earps had to produce a save of the highest quality to keep out midfielder Molly Pike’s strike.

Back at the other end, Levell made another excellent stop to prevent Galton getting her name on the scoresheet.

Skinner: We’re United, we have to attack Video

Skinner: We’re United, we have to attack

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Leicester raised their tempo after a triple substitution brought Mackenzie Smith, Esmee De Greef and McManus into the fray, and it was the latter who dragged her team back into the contest when her downward header from a corner was deemed to have crossed the line, despite Earps parrying the ball back into play.

As if rattled by this, the Reds really took the game by the scruff of the neck, laying siege to Levell’s goal and hitting the woodwork through Batlle and Jackie Groenen while Hannah Blundell burst forward from right-back to have one shot saved and another go inches wide of the far post.

A third United notch seemed inevitable and it was Thomas who provided it with an opportunistic toe-poke inside the box, just moments after coming on for Staniforth.

Now 3-1 up, the Reds continued to pile forward and from another Galton-led raid, Hanson ferried the ball brilliantly around the sprawling Levell, only to see her goalbound effort cleared off the line by Foxes captain Ashleigh Plumptre.

Alessia Russo’s journey back to full match fitness continued with a late cameo as Galton’s replacement and she almost made her mark with a powerful shot that soared over. No further goals were required though and Skinner’s side were certainly worthy winners for the second time in the opening two WSL games.

Toone reflects on triumph Video

Toone reflects on triumph

Ella Toone discusses her stunning strike and the team’s victory over Leicester…

MATCH DETAILS 

United: Earps; Blundell, Mannion, Turner (Thorisdottir 15), Batlle; Zelem (c), Groenen; Staniforth (Thomas 68); Hanson, Toone, Galton (Russo 83). 





Subs not used:
Baggaley, Harris, Boe Risa, Jones, Ladd, F.Fuso. 

Booked: Toone.

Scorers: Toone 36, Thorisdottir 47, Thomas 71  | McManus 61.

Attendance: 4,473.

  • Thomas happy to help the team Video

    Thomas happy to help the team

    Martha Thomas is pleased to have opened her United goals account, after coming off the bench at Leicester…

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