Marc Skinner’s Manchester United picked up a dominating 5-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford to temporarily go to the table of the WSL table.
While it has been a couple of weeks since the Reds were last in action, it seems as if they were carrying the momentum from the win over Arsenal into the game against Villa. Skinner’s side lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 shape as they did against the Gunners and they made no changes from that dramatic 3-2 win.
Mary Earps started between the sticks, with full-backs Hannah Blundell and Ona Batlle keeping their place. The impressive centre-back pairing of Maya Le Tissier and Millie Turner started together once again, with Hayley Ladd and captain Katie Zelem starting at the base of the midfield. The front four of Alessia Russo, Ella Toone, Leah Galton and Nikita Parris looked to keep their impressive form going.
And they indeed kept their impressive form going as in front of a record Old Trafford crowd, captain Zelem opened the scoring from close range for the Reds. Russo’s shot was parried away by goalkeeper Hannah Hampton but Zelem’s rare back post run was untracked and she found the roof of the net easily. It was Zelem’s second goal at Old Trafford.
United exploited the spaces left behind by Villa perfectly on transitions and that is what led to the second goal. Toone set through Galton in-behind and she finished brilliantly past Hampton in the 28th minute.
A couple of minutes later, Russo nearly got a goal of her own but she nodded an easy chance just wide of the post. United could have lived to regret that missed chance only four minutes later, as the Reds failed to clear a Villa corner and Freya Gregory’s shot was saved by Earps.
They nearly created another chance some minutes later, but Alisha Lehmann’s shot was blocked well after she won a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge with Parris.
The visitors did have the ball in the back of the net in 42nd minute after Earps had parried Gregory’s shot into the path of Lehman, who had tapped home. But the goal was disallowed for offside.
Villa’s improvement in the last 15 minutes of the first half didn’t lead to a goal and United’s third goal in the early minutes of the second half pretty much put the final nail in their coffin. The United front four was involved once again, as Parris and Toone combined well and Russo’s England teammate set her up perfectly for an easy finish in the 51st minute.
United almost managed to get a fourth in the 69th minute through substitute Martha Thomas, but the 26-year-old’s delayed shot was saved well by Hampton. Some minutes later, United did get their fourth through Batlle, who had combined with Zelem and Thomas on the right flank before she sent a really good shot from a tight angle into the back of the net. It was a goal which capped off another very good performance from the Spaniard, who has become a fans’ favorite at Old Trafford.
In stoppage time, United made it five and Rachel Williams and Batlle was involved once again. The Spaniard’s cross made sure that Williams scored within five minutes of coming on. Skinner had substituted all of the United’s front four, saving them for the game against Everton in mid-week.
United have now scored 23 goals in the WSL, letting in only five and it was sixth clean sheet of the league season. They sit top of the table as things stand, level with Chelsea on points and ahead on goal difference.