Manchester United played their final match in the Women’s Continental Cup; handed first away defeat as Everton beat them 1-0.
Manchester United: Earps; Battle, McManus, M. Turner, Okvist; Zelem (c), Ladd, Groenen (Toone 60); Sigsworth (Heath 60), Ross (Fuso 74), Galton (Hanson 54)
Substitutes not used: Bentley, A. Turner, Smith
Everton: Maciver; Wold (Pattinson 60), Finnigan, Egurrola, Turner (Clinton 86); Clemaron (Raso 46), Stringer, Christansen, Graham; Sorensen (Boye-Hlorkah 69), Magill (Pike 46)
Substitutes not used: Pedersen
Casey Stoney made five changes to the side that beat Reading 2-1 over the weekend. Abbie McManus, Jane Ross, Lotta Ökvist, Lucy Staniforth and Katie Zelem all started while Amy Turner, Ella Toone, Kirsty Hanson, Kirsty Smith, and Tobin Heath were on the bench. Ivana Fuso also made her Man United debut as a sub, having signed a two-year contract from FC Basel in July, 2020.
Despite dominating large portions of the match, it was Everton who emerged victorious; their first win in five encounters between the sides. Everton captain Lucy Graham scored the only goal for Everton in the 73rd minute, against the run of play. The match was rescheduled from November 4th due to inclement weather.
United and Everton fought to take control of the game early on, both looking to mount the pressure and unafraid to make challenges within the opening minutes.
Leah Galton created United’s first real chance in the match, charging down the left and passing to Jane Ross inside the box. Everton’s keeper comfortably blocked Ross’s shot for a corner kick, and the referee dismissed a subsequent handball claim by Man United.
Millie Turner flicked Katie Zelem’s free kick in 18 minutes but her header missed the top corner by inches. Ona Batlle also had a shot on goal saved from range.
United took control and looked dominating for the first 30min.
Jess Sigsworth fired the ball to goal but Everton keeper Sandy MacIver parried it away for a United corner. Turner came close to goal moments later but saw MacIver save her half volley.
United looked strong from set-pieces and, despite putting the pressure on Everton, went into half-time looking for their first goal. Everton’s Maéva Clemaron was lucky to end the half with only a yellow card as well. The midfielder ploughed through a few United players and, to no one’s surprise, was subbed off shortly after.
United struggled to get out of their back third but grew into the half quickly. Jane Ross found the back of the net in the 51st min but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul in the build-up. Everton adapted their game to take control as they enjoyed a good spell of possession. Their high press didn’t give the United defence much time with the ball, making it harder to play out from the back.
Kirsty Hanson and Tobin Heath came on for Sigsworth and Ross respectively, to immediate effect. Zelem found Heath for a quick one-two but the strike went well over the crossbar.
Everton had a goal disallowed as well for a foul on Hanson, but they broke the deadlock shortly after. A corner into the United penalty box found their Graham, unmarked. She fired the ball low past Mary Earps to give the hosts the lead in the 73rd minute.
The United attack couldn’t connect with the midfield, even with Heath’s clever plays, as the match went into six minutes of stoppage time. Everton were content to defend for the remainder of the match as well, breaking United’s plays and sitting on the ball.
The Reds were threatening from set pieces, especially in the first half, but that wasn’t enough and Stoney will no doubt be disappointed that her team couldn’t win despite their performance.
United would not have qualified to the knockout stages because of goal difference, and it’s clear that Stoney used this match to give more of her players minutes on the field.
They struggled to regain their composure after going a goal down and Everton capitalised on that. At times it looked like the United defence was still recovering from the goal, while Everton were looking for a second.
Man United and Everton face each other again in the new year for the Women’s Super League in Merseyside again, in what promises to be an exciting match.