Manchester City dominated from start to finish as they thrashed a struggling Brighton & Hove Albion in a game that was forced to change location after poor weather rendered their home ground unplayable. Braces from Caroline Weir and Steph Houghton, making her 150th FA Women's Super League appearance, set the visitors on their way to victory in a game they never looked like losing.
Gareth Taylor will be pleased that his side were able to bounce back from what has been a difficult time for the club. The manager was only taking charge of his first match in 2021 after finishing his stint of self-isolation this week and his side were coming off the back of a disappointing extra time loss to Chelsea in the Continental Tyres League Cup.
Story of the match
Man City came out the blocks and as expected dominated the ball. The ladies looked really in the mood and took the lead with a lovely team goal in the 12th minute. Georgia Stanway linking up with Lucy Bronze before slipping through Chloe Kelly who beat her defender and crossed for the oncoming Weir to finish.
Just four minutes later City and Weir doubled their tally. Again some great football in the City midfield leading to Weir playing a give and go with Lauren Hemp before rifling her shot past Cecilie Fiskergard. Weir nearly scored her hat-trick less than 15 minutes later, but after beating three Brighton defenders she was denied by a superb Fiskergard save.
City dominated the ball, but were frustrated by a staunch Brighton defence and they struggled to create clear cut chances. It was not until the 41st minute that City got another shot on target when captain Steph Houghton bundled home at the back post from an Alex Greenwood corner.
Brighton responded well and were the more dangerous side in the final five minutes of the half without actually troubling Ellie Roebuck's goal. Ellie Brazil nearly being played through on goal and Nora Heroum having a shot blocked from the edge of the area.
Brighton started the second half as they ended the half, pressing bravely and got their first shot on target when Inessa Kaagman struck a shot from distance straight at Roebuck.
But with a high press, Brighton were leaving more spaces in transition. Kelly in particular, finding plenty of space and it was her lovely low cross that Ellen White deftly touched past the keeper.
City were now rampant and they scored their fifth just after hour when Houghton struck a superb freekick from 25 yards which crashed in off the underside of the bar.
Brighton, to their credit, continued to press bravely. They were finally rewarded for their hard work when a sloppy pass from Laura Coombs was latched onto by Rianna Jarrett, who stroked a lovely finish past Roebuck.
Gareth Taylor was not happy with his side, demanding an instant reply and his side duly delivered just two minutes later. Coombs making up for her earlier error by capping a brilliant team move by sliding in a pass to Kelly who finished confidently. Kelly, who had been magnificent all day, grabbed a third assist when she slid in a low cross that substitute Janine Beckie fired home.
Before the match Hope Powell said she was hoping for some tiredness from the visitors after their 120 minutes played in the week. She was disappointed in that regard from an excellent Man City. City dominated from start to finish, playing some excellent football to unpick a defence that has frustrated them in the past.
Gareth Taylor will also be pleased by the variety of goals they scored, from lovely team goals to great set pieces. While they remain behind their title competitors they are really picking up form and playing some of the best football in the league.
For Brighton, they will try to pick up and move on from this loss. They had a depleted squad, only naming five substitutes and only had one defender playing in her recognised position. On the contrary, Powell will be pleased with the aggressive pressing in phases which lead to all of Brighton's chances and their first goal against Manchester City in seven attempts.
There were many brilliant performances from City, but no one impressed more than Chloe Kelly. The pacey winger was a menace all afternoon, consistently beating defenders and matching her trickery with quality crosses. She scored a goal and bagged three assists, and with some better finishing from her teammates she would of let the pitch with even more assists to her name.