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City make it 12 in a row with dominant Liverpool win

City make it 12 in a row with dominant Liverpool win
City make it 12 in a row with dominant Liverpool win

City moved top of the WSL table and equalled the longest winning run across a single season in the competition with an outstanding 4-1 triumph at Liverpool.

Gareth Taylor’s side’s 12th consecutive Barclays Women's Super League victory was spearheaded by a remarkable eight-minute period in the first half, in which we struck three times.

It began with a close-range effort from Lauren Hemp, before Jess Park doubled the advantage after some typically fancy footwork in the Liverpool box.

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw rifled a devastating effort into the top corner from distance just two minutes later to put City in control and added a fourth early in the second half with a powerful header.

Taylor Hinds pulled one back for the hosts with an impressive individual effort, but it wasn't enough to prevent City moving back to the WSL summit.

What happened?

With title rivals Chelsea and Arsenal facing each other in the Continental Cup final on Sunday, City travelled to a sunny Prenton Park knowing we had an opportunity to go three points clear at the WSL summit.

But against a Liverpool side enjoying their best run of form in the WSL since 2017, that ambition was far from guaranteed.

The two sides had served up a seven-goal thriller in the Conti Cup group stages earlier this season, but while the opening exchanges were keenly contested, neither side could carve out any genuine chances.

But that changed in a devastating eight-minute period midway through the first 45, beginning with Hemp’s opener.

Having been slightly on the back foot in the early stages, Gareth Taylor’s side sprung to life on the counter down the right, with Park eventually forcing Rachel Laws into a save from distance.

However, the Liverpool stopper couldn’t keep hold of the effort, with Hemp pouncing on the loose ball, skipping away from a challenge and firing into the bottom corner.

Fresh from her derby double last week, Park made it two just six minutes later when she rounded off an exquisite team move.

Picking up play from Fowler, the midfielder jinked her way through the challenges before firing across goal and into the net off the post.

City looked every inch a team searching for a 12th successive WSL win, and Shaw’s unstoppable effort moments after our second demonstrated that in lethal fashion.

Having flicked the ball around the onrushing Gemma Bonner, the Jamaican grabbed perhaps the most spectacular of her record 70 City goals so far, launching a 25-yard drive into the top corner of the hosts’ net.

With goal difference likely to have a major bearing on the WSL title race, Gareth Taylor’s side’s clinical performance was just what the doctor, but we had to be alert at the other end when Leanne Kiernan fired wide from a promising position.

But City’s dominance continued into the second 45, with Shaw adding a fourth from a Fowler corner just five minutes after the restart.

The Jamaican rose highest to nod home the Australian’s cross at the far post, taking her personal tally to 20 for the season in the process.

Shaw had grabbed a hat-trick against the Reds in January’s reverse fixture at the Joie Stadium, and almost completed a treble with 20 to play when she powered her way in behind from Khiara Keating’s long ball, but Laws was equal to her effort.

She went even closer soon after when the forward did find the net from Laura Blindkilde Brown’s through ball, but the offside flag denied a fifth for City.

Keating had to be alert at the other end soon after, when Mia Enderby forced the goalkeeper into a smart save at her near post after beating the offside trap.

But the visitors would grab a consolation with an unstoppable drive from distance by Hinds.

The defender's effort from all of 30 yards was tipped onto the crossbar by Keating, but the ball then ricocheted off the City stopper and into the net.

It meant we had to settle for a three-goal triumph, which was still enough to ensure we boast a superior goal difference to Chelsea by one.

Player of the Match: Bunny Shaw

The Jamaican's first was the pick of the bunch for City, showing that she's just as lethal from distance as she is inside the area.

But Shaw's game was about far more than the goals, with the forward leading the line with typical energy and intelligence.

She seems destined to claim the WSL's Golden Boot, and it would be just rewards for the influence she has on this exciting young team.

How we lined up

Gareth Taylor made one change from the side who beat Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, with Laia Aleixandri coming in for the injured Leila Ouahabi.

The Spain international’s 50th appearance for the Club saw her line up at left-back with Alanna Kennedy and Alex Greenwood starting at centre-half, with Kerstin Casparij completing the back four in front of Khiara Keating.

Yui Hasegawa, Jess Park and Laura Coombs made up the midfield three, with Mary Fowler and Lauren Hemp on the flanks.

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw began proceedings as centre-forward.

CITY XI: Keating, Casparij (Stokes 72’), Kennedy, Greenwood (C), Aleixandri, Hasegawa, Park, Coombs (Blindkilde Brown 61’), Fowler (Kelly 72’), Hemp, Shaw.

SUBS: MacIver, Houghton, Angeldahl, Morgan, Pritchard, Mace.

LIVERPOOL XI: Laws, Koivisto, Clark, Bonner (Lawley 46’), Fisk, Parry (Hinds 46’), Nagano, Hobinger (Kearns 46’), Holland (Leath 90'), Kiernan (Enderby 58’), Haug.

SUBS: Micah, Duffy.

What it means

City leapfrog Chelsea at the top of the WSL table, sitting three points clear of the reigning champions, who have a game in hand.

Gareth Taylor's side now boast a superior goal difference by one differential.

Up next

City return from the international break with a WSL clash against West Ham United at the Joie Stadium.

Kick-off is set for 14:15 (UK) on Sunday 21 April, with tickets still available to purchase by clicking here.