Manchester City 8-1 Bristol City: City run riot at the Academy Stadium
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

An hour before kickoff, the Vixens announced that they had five players who would be absent from the game after being in close contact with somebody who had developed symptoms of COVID-19 yesterday.

A side which had already conceded twenty goals their opening four games, Bristol City's uphill battle became even more difficult due to missing so many crucial players.

A club statement said that 'The FA has directed that this afternoon's game should go ahead and Bristol City has accordingly drafted in player's from the club's academy', this coming despite the club requesting for a postponement of the match.

It only further made the game difficult for the Vixens and helped Manchester City to their record WSL victory.

Story of the match

As is always the case for Manchester City, the focus was on build-up play as the first half opened. Keeping possession, their play was concentrated on the left-hand flank and it quickly resulted in chances. At the tenth-minute mark, Georgia Stanway broke through the defence before unleashing a cross into the box, it was cleared off the line but only into the path of Sophie Baggaley, who deflected it into her own net.

Gemma Bonner has consistently been the rock at the back of Gareth Taylor's side's defence, so it was unexpected when she handed the Vixens an equaliser only a minute after Stanway's opener. With Ellie Roebuck shouting for the ball, Bonner passed backwards but it was latched onto by Ebony Salmon, who etched her name onto the scoresheet in her first WSL game of the season.

For nearly half an hour, the match bore resemblance to a number of other performances which Manchester City have played this season. They dominated position and looked to break through behind the backline, but struggled to direct any chances towards goal.

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As has been the case in previous fixtures, Sam Mewis' movement off the ball was simply sublime. Time and time again she found herself unmarked in dangerous positions, but she just wasn't able to convert a number of opportunities which she earned with the ball in the air.

On the 39th minute, the floodgates opened. Steph Houghton pinged a ball over the top and Laura Coombs, who netted a similar goal against Liverpool in the Continental Cup on Wednesday, fired past Baggaley on the half-volley

Two minutes later, Keira Walsh picked up the ball around 25 yards out from the goal. Sometimes shots need power; sometimes shots need placement - this had both. The midfielder unleashed a dipping effort which was tucked into the far post to extend the blues' lead.

Walsh's influence in the first half was not yet complete, however. On the counter, after Bristol had the ball in the City box, she ran forwards and threaded through Lucy Bronze who found herself free on goal. The right-back then made it four, her effort bouncing off the post before it reached the back of the net.

Gareth Taylor's side went into the break with 86% of the game's possession, a statistic tantamount to just how much they controlled the first half.

Second half

It did not take long for Manchester City's excellent form to continue, with the final goalscorer of the first half involved in the fifth goal of the game. Running down the right, Lucy Bronze delivered a chipped cross towards the far post, which Georgia Stanway connected with to make it five.

By the 88th minute, Bristol had no chance of finding a way to claw a result back, but it was only to get worse. Jill Scott, on as a substitute in place of Sam Mewis, played a low cross in from the right which was met by an outstretched Ellen White who diverted the ball into the goal.

Despite the scoreline. Sophie Baggaley made some inspired saves across the game. You have to wonder, if the 23-year-old was not at Bristol City, would she be regarded more highly than she currently is?

City controlled the possession for the rest of the second half, their attacking efforts seemingly non-stop.

Janine Beckie was the player who put the icing on the cake in last weekend's FA Cup final, scoring with the final kick of the game, and she made her mark on Saturday. Threaded through, once again with an attack down the right, the substitute slotted the ball through the goalkeeper's net to notch in the seventh.

A footballing lesson from Gareth Taylor's side, the goals just didn't stop coming. With Ellen White played through inside of the box, she calmly tucked her shot goalwards to make it eight.

Takeaways

City back to winning ways

Manchester City have had some underwhelming performances in this campaign, but Saturday's game looked much more like the side which has been so impressive in previous seasons.

The blues obliterated Bristol City, spending the vast majority of the game around the opposition box while tormenting Sophie Baggaley in goal.

Coombs puts in a strong performance

29-year-old Laura Coombs' appearances for Manchester City have been few and far between since she joined in the summer of 2019, a fact which is not helped by the injury she picked up last season.

However, she performed very well on Saturday and was influential throughout the game. She has also netted two goals in as many games, both being wonderful strikes after balls over the top.

Player of the match - Lucy Bronze

Saturday's performance was one where it was incredibly difficult to pick a single player of the match, but if anybody, Lucy Bronze just edged out the rest of her teammates.

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Her pace down the right was incredible and her efforts resulted in her picking up two assists as well as a goal of her own.

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