Manchester United and Manchester City played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Leigh Sports Village in the WSL’s first Manchester derby of the season.
A 10-player City initially took the lead through a headed effort from Khadija Shaw in the first half. United then moved into the ascendancy after the interval and turned the game on its head with quick fire goals from Lucy Staniforth and Alessia Russo.
But City refused to give up and Ellen White showed a poacher’s instinct to make it 2-2.
It was a tense and cagey affair in the opening stages as either side attempted to get the measure of the other. City had chances to take an early lead, but Mary Earps was up to the challenge in the United goal, while Maria Thorisdottir also cleared one off the line.
The game hinged on a moment of madness from Georgia Stanway, who was filling as City’s emergency right-back. Her thigh-high tackle on United winger Leah Galton resulted in a straight red card that reduced the visitors to 10 players in the first half.
Bizarrely, City played better after that and Shaw’s goal was a deserved breakthrough.
United were much brighter in the early stages of the second half and were good value for their equaliser when a quick thinking corner gave Staniforth a close range goal. They took the lead only moments later Russo forged her own chance and found the bottom corner.
White’s late equaliser ensured the points would be shared, with the Ballon d’Or nominee turned in a rebound after youngster Jess Park had seen a spectacular effort turned onto the cross bar by Earps.
Man Utd player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Mary Earps (GK) - 7/10 - Made good saves in either half and was extremely unlucky when the rebound from an amazing stop was turned in for 2-2.
Ona Batlle (RB) - 6/10 - Given a surprisingly torrid time by Hemp.
Maria Thorisdottir (CB) - 6/10 - Goal-line clearance in the first half kept United in the game while the teams were still even.
Aoife Mannion (CB) - 6/10 - Completely lost Shaw for the breakthrough goal. Otherwise coped well against quality City attackers.
Hannah Blundell (LB) - 7/10 - A bright spark at full-back once more and was involved when United took the lead at 2-1.
Katie Zelem (CM) - 6/10 - Exerted more control after half-time after struggling to gain a foothold in the game in the first.
Jackie Groenen (CM) - 7/10 - Played further forward after the interval to give United more attacking impetus and it worked.
Ella Toone (AM) - 7/10 - Moments of real quality were there throughout and it was her cross that got United back on level terms.
Kirsty Hanson (RW) - 5/10 - Difficult afternoon against City left-back Stokes in which she came off second best.
Alessia Russo (ST) - 7/10 - Led the line as best she could as a lone striker. It was hard at times but rewarded with a fine finish to give United the lead.
Leah Galton (LW) - 7/10 - Caused so many problems and was unfortunate not to get a penalty in the second half. Occasionally lacked a clinical edge.
Lucy Staniforth (AM) - 7/10 - Made the ultimate impact by equalising off the bench with an improvised heel flick.
Hayley Ladd (CM) - 6/10 - Added fresh legs in midfield at an important time.
Man City player ratings
5. Goalkeeper & defenders
Karima Taieb (GK) - 6/10 - Not really properly tested until after half-time when she made a strong save from Toone.
Georgia Stanway (RB) - 4/10 - Obvious quality getting forward but a shocking high challenge on Galton left City with 10 players.
Jill Scott (CB) - 7/10 - Could have conceded a penalty and was caught sleeping when United equalised. Otherwise quite good in an unnatural role.
Alex Greenwood (CB) - 6/10 - Greeted with hostility against her old club.
Demi Stokes (LB) - 8/10 - Wonderfully flighted cross to give Shaw the opener and had the upper hand in her defensive duels as well.
Keira Walsh (CM) - 6/10 - Back in the side after only lasting 45 minutes a week ago following injury trouble. More like her usual self.
Caroline Weir (CM) - 7/10 - Showed her class on the ball throughout the game and it was that which ultimately created City's equaliser at 2-2.
Filippa Angeldal (CM) - 6/10 - Could have made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time. Had to try and link midfield and attack after the red card.
Janine Beckie (RW) - 6/10 - Drew a big first half save from Earps. Had to revert to full-back when Stanway was sent off.
Khadija Shaw (ST) - 7/10 - Overcome an early knock to pop up with the headed opener but only lasted to the hour mark.
Lauren Hemp (LW) - 8/10 - Her usual electric self on the left flank. Unlucky not to score herself with a header in the first half.
Ellen White (ST) - 7/10 - Initially quiet after coming on until she gratefully gobbled up a rebound to make it 2-2.
Jess Park (RW) - 7/10 - Sparked City back into life after going 2-1 down. It was her spectacular effort that rebounded to White.
Laura Coombs (CM) - N/A