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Manchester United 6-0 Liverpool: United dominate rivals to kick off 2023

Don’t say title race, don’t say title race…

Manchester United v Liverpool FC - Barclays Women’s Super League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester United picked up a resounding 6-0 win over arch-rivals Liverpool in the WSL, as they supplemented their goal difference massively in the title race.

With Chelsea taking on Arsenal at the Emirates at the same time, the game presented a huge opportunity for United to cut the gap between themselves and Emma Hayes’ side. And they did just that, while also providing themselves with huge momentum as they head into the business end of the campaign.

With Leah Galton out, United brought in Lucia Garcia on the left and the rest of the side remained the same as it was in the side’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City. Ona Batlle and Hannah Blundell were the full-backs, with Millie Turner and Maya Le Tissier starting at centre-backs behind the usual midfield pairing of captain Katie Zelem and Hayley Ladd.

United took an early through summer signing Garcia in the sixth minute, as Batlle was heavily involved and showed her ability to create once again. After being played in by Katie Zelem down the right side, the Spaniard crossed in for her compatriot, allowing Garcia’s deflected effort to go in.

United were comfortable in possession throughout, dictating play from back to front, with Liverpool only relying on breaks and sitting in their own half. Considering the state of play in the WSL table, that was largely expected.

The dominance paid off soon, as Liverpool couldn’t break quickly on winning the ball back and this allowed Hayley Ladd to steal it and put Alessia Russo through. The United forward finished calmly low into the bottom corner to double the side’s lead in the 24th minute.

Liverpool began to press United higher after conceding the 2nd goal but left more spaces behind them for United to exploit. After Nikita Parris’ shot was blocked and Ella Toone blazed over the post some minutes later, Ladd got a goal of her own minutes before the end of the 1st half.

Liverpool once again had lost the ball but couldn’t counter well enough, only to lose the ball. Batlle’s cross from the right found Ladd perfectly at the far post, allowing the United midfielder to finish calmly into the bottom corner. The 3-0 lead at halftime was richly deserved, as Liverpool never came close to threatening Skinner’s side.

It was not over yet though, as United’s fourth came in the 63rd minute after a brief period of Liverpool dominance when they failed to muster any chances. Batlle was involved in the 4th too, as her cross met Millie Turner, who knocked it in and her shot took a deflection off Liverpool’s Emma Koivisto before going in. It went down as a Koivisto own goal, unfortunately for the United centre-back, who has been very good in the season so far.

United made some changes to personnel not long after and it was a substitute in Martha Thomas who got the side’s fifth. The goal came from the left this time as Toone played a perfect cross inside for Thomas, who finished well and lobbed Liverpool stopper Rachael Laws with ease.

Ladd had a chance to make it six for the day and get a second for herself but her left footed effort from inside the box was low and saved by Laws. In the build up to the goal, Thomas was fouled in the box and United asked for a penalty but the appeals were waived away.

United did make it six a minute later. Liverpool failed to clear Zelem’s free kick properly and Ladd’s ball from the right was met firmly at the back post by substitute Rachel Williams, who hammered in from close range.

Skinner’s side nearly got another one from Williams only some seconds after kick off. But the summer signing’s initial shot was blocked and the rebound skied over the post.

The win means that United are only three points behind Chelsea, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Arsenal despite Sam Kerr scoring in the first half. United have a game in hand and because of the 6-0 win, have a superior goal difference than the Blues.