Manchester City women survived a second half onslaught from bottom of the table Liverpool to hang on for a 1-0 win in the WSL at the Academy Stadium on Sunday.
City enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and were unfortunate to not open the scoring when Caroline Weir picked out Tessa Wullaert inside the penalty area, but her goal bound effort was tipped over the bar by Anke Preuss.
The hosts took the lead on 21 minutes when two former Liverpool players combined; Weir's free kick glanced home by Gemma Bonner.
Liverpool were the better side in the second half, and almost equalised when Ellie Roebuck fumbled Mel Lawley's cross, but the City stopper recovered quickly to thwart Niamh Charles.
The visitor's piled on the pressure in the final 20 minutes, Jade Bailey coming closest with a speculative drive from distance that was palmed over by Roebuck. However, they failed to find the break through and City clung on for victory.
Here's 90min's breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
This was not a straight forward victory for Manchester City against the team rooted to the foot of the WSL
However, City invited Liverpool onto them as the game drew to a close and were really made to sweat as the hosts piled on the pressure. They rode their luck and hung on for a win that keeps them well in the hunt for the title.
Starting XI: Roebuck (7); Beckie (8*); Houghton (6); Bonner (7); Stokes (7); Walsh (8); Weir (8); Coombs (7); Hemp (7); Wullaert (7); White (6)
Subs: Stanway (6); Scott (6)
STAR PLAYER: Janine Beckie
It was another commanding display from Beckie, who was dogged up and down the right hand side. Beckie was solid defensively and offered a real threat going forward. The Canadian does not look out of place at right back, despite playing the majority of her career further up the pitch, having been drafted in after Aoife Mannion's season ending injury.
Beckie demonstrated the grit and determination that City showed to grind out the result in the second half.
40. Beckie relentless down the right hand side as she wins another corner. She's really been causing Liverpool problems.— Man City Women (@ManCityWomen) December 1, 2019
Key Talking Point
Another game, another blank for Liverpool. They have still not scored from open play in the WSL this season. In Mel Lawley and Niamh Charles they have two fantastically creative players; but they are creators, not goal scorers. Liverpool are in desperate need for a striker if they are to stop themselves from tumbling towards the Championship.
The Reds, however, are not playing like a side threatened by relegation. They do not concede many goals, can knock the ball around well and get forward in numbers. Against Everton, they were excellent but left with nothing to show for their efforts and similarly here, the Reds deserved at least a draw after their spirited second half display against City.
There has been no investment in the women's side at Liverpool since they won back to back titles in 2014, so the chances of a goalscorer being recruited in the transfer window seem slim.
Starting XI: Preuss (7); Jane (6); Bradley-Aukland (7); Fahey (6); Robe (6); Bailey (7); Roberts (6); Lawley (7); Linnett (6); Charles (7*); Sweetman-Kirk (5)
Subs: Hodson (5); Murray (5)
STAR PLAYER: Niamh Charles
The young winger was really impressive yet again for Liverpool, demonstrating her technical prowess and ability to glide past players with ease. But Charles also put in a real defensive shift for her side today, with a crunching tackle on the left hand side towards the latter stages of the game epitomising her performance.
all i want is to see niamh charles score the goals she deserves— sam (@samihxh_17) December 1, 2019
Niamh Charles having a great game for Liverpool today against Manchester City despite losing 1-0.— Craig Hadley (@craighadlee) December 1, 2019
Hard to think this is the same Liverpool we've seen so far this season. Much improved.
Manchester City face a stern test in their bid to be crowned WSL champions, as they travel to undefeated league leaders Chelsea next Sunday. The outcome could have a telling impact on the destination of the WSL title this season.
Liverpool welcome West Ham next weekend, a side they did the double over last season.