From the Etihad Stadium – Manchester City and Manchester United played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in front of 44,259 in a landmark WSL derby at the Etihad Stadium.
Leah Galton’s first half opener was eventually cancelled out by Laura Coombs, with a draw arguably the fairest outcome on the balance of the game.
The travelling contingent of United fans were louder and more passionate with their singing, and it took City around 10 minutes to get into their stride. But the hosts had the first real sight of goal when Mary Earps had to punch the ball away at a corner threatening to drop into the net.
City continued that pressure without creating much more in the way of clear sites of goal, which gave United the confidence to attack more and then take the lead when their opportunity came.
The visitors had been best out wide against Aston Villa last weekend and in the early stages here and it was a move that came from the left. Galton started it, before playing inside to Ella Toone and continuing her run into the box. The deflected low finish beat Ellie Roebuck at the near post.
United clearly took confidence from going ahead, playing more freely than they were earlier. And while Earps made a couple of saves in what remained of the first half, the England number one was comfortable and City hadn’t done enough to get back on level terms.
If anything, United had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 before the break, but Hayley Ladd lacked the composure from a relatively tight angle and fire high and wide.
Marc Skinner’s side then picked up where they left off after the restart and really pinned the hosts in. But the first time that City really broke that press in the second half, they scored. A Chloe Kelly cross from the right wasn’t cleared and Coombs was in a great position to stoop and nod in.
It changed the momentum of the game and soon Kelly went close to putting City ahead with an effort from out wide that flashed across the face of goal. Millie Turner, who had missed her header for the equaliser, then had to stretch to turn a dangerous ball over her own crossbar.
Alessia Russo had a couple of half chances to restore United’s lead, firing just wide from distance. Both goalkeepers were called into action as the final stages approached, Earps twice saved Khadija Shaw headers, while Roebuck just about kept hold of one from substitute Martha Thomas.
With both sides seemingly not settled to accept a draw, it was end to end stuff in the final moments.
United players furiously appealed for a penalty in stoppage time when they felt Lucia Garcia’s close-range attempt was blocked by an arm. But neither side could find a late winner.
Man City player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Ellie Roebuck - 6/10 - Unfortunate with the United breakthrough as it was deflected through the legs of a defender. This season hasn't been her best and didn't always look that convincing.
RB: Kerstin Casparij - 6/10 - Looked as though she would repeatedly struggle against Galton but largely managed to shut that down after being easily beaten for the United goal.
CB: Laia Aleixandri - 6/10 - Made the equaliser possible by stepping into midfield with the ball and kicking off the move that resulted in Coombs scoring.
CB: Alex Greenwood (c) - 6/10 - Wore the captain's armband against her old club. Barely gave the ball away as per.
LB: Leila Ouahabi - 7/10 - Looked really good when she got forward but there was a large chunk of the game where she wasn't that involved.
CM: Laura Coombs - 8/10 - Continued her good goalscoring start to the season by gambling and making sure she got herself into the box.
CM: Yui Hasegawa - 5/10 - Really struggled to impose herself in the first half because of how United pressed in midfield.
CM: Deyna Castellanos - 6/10 - Made significantly more impact after half-time.
RW: Chloe Kelly - 7/10 - Quiet until making the City equaliser with a teasing cross from the right and continued to pose a threat on that side in the second half.
ST: Khadija Shaw - 7/10 - Looked a danger running in open spaces but often had to come deeper to be effective because of the attentions of Le Tissier. Had a couple of headers well saved.
LW: Lauren Hemp - 6/10 - Not vintage Hemp but this was her first WSL appearance in more than a month. Marshalled well by Batlle.
SUB: Hayley Raso (85' for Kelly) - N/A
Gareth Taylor - 7/10 - Trusted his instincts by not really using his bench. His team were much improved after the half-time interval.
Man Utd player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Mary Earps - 7/10 - Made a number of saves without being super challenged.
RB: Ona Batlle - 8/10 - A really important attacking outlet as always, made all the more impressive by having to deal with Hemp the other way.
CB: Maya Le Tissier - 7/10 - Handled herself really well in the physical battle with Shaw. A really mature performance overall.
CB: Millie Turner - 6/10 - Made a number of good blocks and clearances, although failed to cut out the cross for City's equaliser.
LB: Hannah Blundell - 6/10 - Held her own against Kelly overall, but the equaliser did come from that side.
CM: Katie Zelem (c) - 8/10 - Pressed City really well in central areas and made it difficult for them to play through the middle. Showed quality with the ball too.
CM: Hayley Ladd - 7/10 - Battled hard to make United competitive in the middle. A little more composure could have given her a first half goal
AM: Ella Toone - 7/10 - Had the vision and awareness to play it back to Galton to assist the breakthrough. Took up positions between the lines and worked hard off the ball too.
RW: Nikita Parris - 6/10 - Didn't offer loads going forward but put in a shift when City had the ball to protect Batlle behind her.
ST: Alessia Russo - 7/10 - Wore down the City centre-backs, with her strength and movement helping to bring others into play.
LW: Leah Galton - 7/10 - Made her opening goal by taking it to City on the left and continuing her run. A real danger but arguably not utilised enough.
SUB: Martha Thomas (72' for Parris) - 6/10
SUB: Lucia Garcia (84' for Russo) - 6/10
Marc Skinner - 8/10 - Has really drilled a particular philosophy into his players and will be pleased to see those principles in play here. The growth in experience has been huge.