Sunderland 1-2 Man Utd: Parris double edges difficult Women's FA Cup tie

Man Utd are into the next round of the Women's FA Cup
Man Utd are into the next round of the Women's FA Cup / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Manchester United survived a scare to earn a hard-fought Women’s FA Cup victory over second tier Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, progressing to the fifth round with a 2-1 win.

Marc Skinner’s side have been flying in the WSL this season and finished last weekend top of the table on goal difference. But a combination of Sunderland raising their game in front a record home crowd, the hosts’ physical approach and a less than ideal playing surface made it tough.

United struggled against Durham in the Conti Cup on their last trip to the north east only three months ago. And while they had the lion’s share of the ball at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, finding the breakthrough proved to more challenging than most would have expected.

They have blown away Reading, Aston Villa and Liverpool in heavily one-sided league games this season, yet Sunderland refused to go down without a fight.

Ella Toone, Rachel Williams and Vilde Boe Risa all had first half chances and it was only the closing stages before the interval that United took the lead through Parris. The goal was made down the right by star full-back Ona Batlle, jinking past her marker to make just enough room for the cross and give Parris a relatively straightforward volleyed finish in the middle of the penalty area.

Chances to extend the lead early in the second half went begging. Williams saw a header just miss the target early on, while Martha Thomas didn’t get enough power on a stab at goal that was gratefully grasped by Sunderland goalkeeper Claudia Moan.

Sunderland then flexed to equalise via a set-piece, Abby Holmes scored a looping far post header from a corner than United defenders on the line were unable to clear. But they weren’t level for long as Parris restored the visitors’ advantage two minutes later, firing high past Moan from close-range.

United ultimately had the depth to freshen things up and stay in control in the final quarter of the match, with new signing Estelle Cascarino handed a debut immediately after Sunderland equalised and Lucia Garcia going on to replace Parris – both with international experience.

The draw for the fifth round will take place on Monday 30 January from 6:30pm. United will be ball number six in the pot.

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