Manchester United women picked up a dominating 5-0 win against Birmingham City at Leigh Sports Village, as they climbed up to third in the Super League and now find themselves only four points behind Arsenal.
With the break now behind them, Marc Skinner’s side reverted to their generally preferred 4-3-3 shape, with Birmingham using a much more compact 3-5-2 shape on the day. Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and Leah Galton started in the front three, as Katie Zelem formed the base of the midfield three.
United dominated from the offset and their dominance constantly paid off, especially in the first half. The idea for Skinner’s girls was to switch quickly from back to front and get the ball as quickly as possible to the front three.
In the second minute itself, Russo had a shot blocked from close by and it was the beginning of United’s dominance in terms of having attempts on goal. Vilde Risa had an attempt saved and blocked soon enough as well, but it was Zelem who found the top corner with her left to hand United the lead in the 12th minute.
Four minutes later, the creator of Zelem’s goal got United’s second as Galton’s left-footed effort found the back of the net and she doubled her tally a couple of minutes later after she was set up by a cross from Toone.
United kept building from the back and playing through the lines quickly, while also winning the ball as quickly as possible. Birmingham had very limited possession and United limited their chances as well.
At the stroke of half time, United had their fourth. Toone’s long-range effort nearly went in but hit the post and came off Birmingham stopper Emily Ramsey and bundled in from close range.
Just before the hour mark, Galton had a chance to grab a hat-trick as she was set up by Kirsty Smith but 21-year-old Ramsey made another save to deny the 27-year-old.
Louise Quinn had an effort hit the post in what was one of Birmingham’s best chances of the game but United got their fifth in the 71st minute through Russo. She got her fifth goal of the season, as she headed in well off a cross from Hannah Blundell.
United dropped the tempo of the game and made a raft of subs to safely negotiate towards the end of the game, starting 2022 in brilliant style.
Skinner’s side have played more games than Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham but it was their third consecutive clean sheet in the league.