Manchester United Women drew 1-1 with Aston Villa Women to open their League Cup campaign. Villa trailed for much of the match, but equalized and forced a shootout to decide who would take an additional point from the draw, and defeated United 4-3 in the shootout.
The United lineup was a largely rotated one from Marc Skinner, with the entire forward line changed from their first couple FA Women’s Super League lineups. Adriana Leon led the line, flanked by Martha Thomas and Nikita Parris with Lucy Staniforth as the more advanced midfielder. Jade Moore and Vilde Boe Risa also came into the midfield pivot over Katie Zelem and Hayley Ladd respectively.
In defense Maya Le Tissier and Ona Batlle were the only regulars in the lineup, with Batlle swapping over to left-back. Aissatou Tounkara made her debut alongside Le Tissier in defense, and Maria Thorisdottir came into the side as well for her first appearance of the season. In goal, Sophie Bagaley got the start.
The rotation worked for United early in the match, and they found themselves in front after 16 minutes through Parris’ first goal for the club. United kept slightly more possession than Villa, who were playing most of their regulars, but in terms of attacking output the teams were mostly matching each other.
Villa equalized in the 72nd minute through forward Rachel Daly, who now has 4 goals in 3 games to start the season.
United looked to respond, and all five substitutes brought in regulars to try and find the winner. Ella Toone and Lucia Garcia both came on in attack, but the match remained 1-1 after 90 minutes. It would take spot kicks to decide who would earn the extra point.
After Zelem converted from the spot, a miss from Ladd put Villa at an advantage. However Villa would miss their next two as United converted, and Ella Toone would have a chance to win the shootout but missed and it went to sudden death. Hannah Blundell and Batlle would both miss from the spot as well, and Mayumi Pacheco’s conversion for Villa gave them the 4-3 shootout win.
Not an ideal start to League Cup group play, but a point is something to work with as United still have matches to play against Durham, Everton, and Sheffield United.
United are now off until October 16, when they resume FA WSL play against Brighton & Hove Albion at Leigh Sports Village.