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Women’s Football Man United condemn Blues to third 5-0 loss of the season

Manchester United 5-0 Birmingham City
by Adam Millington
​​​​​​​at Leigh Sports Village

MARC SKINNER extended his side’s winning streak to four games in all competitions as Manchester United trounced Birmingham City in the Women’s Super League on Saturday afternoon.

A victory of such magnitude further highlights just how sloppy Arsenal’s performance must have been for the Blues to beat them 2-0 at St Andrew’s last weekend.

Two goals and an assist from Leah Galton in the first half, coupled with a long-range Ella Toone effort, sealed the result for the reds before the clock had even struck 45 minutes.

Skinner had been frustrated with United throwing away leads in previous games, but was pleased by his side’s mentality over the weekend.

He said: “If you want to win, stop worrying about that final place and stop worrying about being top of the table. Stop worrying about getting to the finals and start concentrating really solely on each game – how we can beat Birmingham.

“And first half, we showed how we can beat Birmingham. Second half we dipped, and that’s not acceptable for us … but apart from that, it’s our first game back and it’s another five goals and another clean sheet, which is excellent.”

A flurry of three goals in six minutes saw the game fall firmly into United’s favour early on and set the tone for how the rest of the match would play out.

The opener came courtesy of Katie Zelem, the United captain latching onto a Galton through-ball before chipping over reds loanee Emily Ramsey in the Birmingham goal.

Galton then got her name on the scoresheet when she tapped in a deflected Alessia Russo pass to make it two before converting a Toone cross for the game’s third.

She then made it three on 18 minutes when a perfectly directed Toone cross landed at her feet and she knocked it past Ramsey.

“I’ve asked Leah to do it [score] more often,” Skinner said of her performance after the game. “Because I feel that she does so much unselfish work that actually I want her to be a bit more selfish when she's in those pockets, and not play like a winger – play like a second forward because she’s got that ability. 

“She’s played [in] and finishes in one and that is something that I want her to continue to do. Because once you see the other side she’ll score, score, score because she’s a great talent.”

Things went from bad to worse shortly before the break for Birmingham when Toone’s curling effort from 25 yards was stopped by the crossbar only for it to ricochet off the back of Ramsey and into her own goal.

They became more solid defensively in the second half, but United kept knocking on the door and eventually made it five when Russo connected with a cross from substitute Hannah Blundell to direct a powerful bullet header into the back of the net.

Birmingham’s third 5-0 loss of the season, this always seemed like it was going to be a game where the side who had picked up only four points from eleven games was going to struggle.

And for interim boss Darren Carter, it is games against teams around them which will be far more important than pulling off unexpected victories against bigger clubs.

WSL talking points

• MAN CITY are turning their season around with two strong wins after the winter break. Their injury crisis held them back but the return of Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze is now spurring them on.

• LYDIA BEDFORD is getting Leicester’s season back on track and the new head coach led her side to a 1-0 victory over mid-table Brighton on Sunday. The Foxes have now climbed back above Birmingham to two points off the foot of the ladder.

• COVID is still causing chaos in the WSL even after the winter break. Five of the 12 games so far have been postponed as clubs continue to record outbreaks. With the season already cramped, get ready for even more fixture congestion.

• ARSENAL have started the transfer window strongly. Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius is a good addition to an already strong front line and Laura Wienroither should help sure up the defence.

• THIRD is going to be a hotly contested place in the table, and it’s only getting tighter. With United now getting into gear, City firing on all cylinders and Spurs, Brighton and Reading putting up a fine challenge, it will be interesting to see how the race develops.

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