In a game in which Manchester City was always favored, the home side came out strong, dictating possession and looking to break Everton’s defense. The visitors came out with a back five, which consisted of three center-backs, to counter City’s speed and creativity on the wings.
And while City had a majority of the early possession, the Blues broke several times on the counter: Rikke Sevecke found right back Ingrid Moe Wold on the right channel, and the Norwegian sent a diagonal ball into the box, but Valérie Gauvin dummied the pass, ending the opportunity.
After failing to break Everton’s low-block in the early moments of the fixture, City generated their first quality chance of the first half at the 25-minute mark. Set-piece-specialist Caroline Weir hit a left-footed shot that ricocheted to the back post, where Sam Mewis was unmarked. Thankfully for the Toffees, the American standout scuffed the shot wide of the net.
Following Weir’s set piece, which struck Danielle Turner in the head, Everton’s left back was forced from the contest. In her place came Poppy Pattinson, who was tasked with guarding the electric Chloe Kelly on the right side. But things would get worse for Blues manager Willie Kirk in the 38’, as his second fullback, Wold, had to come off the pitch with a leg injury.
City’s only other claim to a scoring opportunity in the first came when a cross into the box appeared to have struck Izzy Christiansen on the arm. Upon further review, however, it was clear that the ball had glanced off the 29-year-old’s shoulder. The half ended with six shots for the home team. None of them, though, troubled Sandy MacIver in net.
City started the second how they ended the first — MacIver immediately was tested but punched a cross out of danger. Manchester forward Ellen White, who has netted eight times in league play this season, found some room in behind the defense but cranked the ensuing shot wide.
Everton found some breathing room with 20 minutes to go, earning three corner kicks in the span of five minutes but couldn’t put the ball in the net. After dominating for a majority of Sunday’s affair — 64-percent possession — the Citizens broke through in the 81st minute, through intricate combination play between Steph Houghton, Lauren Hemp and Keira Walsh.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The goal that broke the deadlock: Steph Houghton sent a patented long ball to Lauren Hemp on the right flank. The speedy winger drove at the Toffees’ backline, cut in and delivered a pass to the top of the 18. Keira Walsh, who had continued her run from midfield, struck the ball and deftly placed a shot into the left corner as Everton Sandy MacIver stood frozen in place.
Everton (5-4-1): Sandy MacIver; Rikke Sevecke, Megan Finnigan, Gabby George, Ingrid Moe Wold, Danielle Turner; Izzy Christiansen, Lucy Graham, Maéva Clemaron, Nicoline Sørensen; Valérie Gauvin
Substitutes: Poppy Pattinson for Turner 26, Hayley Raso for Moe Wold 38, Claire Emslie for Gauvin 73, Simone Magill for George 73
Unused Substitutes: Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Alisha Lehmann, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Grace Clinton
Bookings: Clemaron 79, Pattinson 90
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ellie Roebuck; Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Alex Greenwood, Esme Morgan; Keira Walsh, Sam Mewis, Caroline Weir; Chloe Kelly, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp
Substitutes: Rose Lavelle for Mewis 67, Georgia Stanway for White 67, Laura Coombs for Weir 88
Unused Substitutes: Karima Benameur Taieb, Khiara Keating, Aoife Mannion, Janine Beckie, Millie Davies, Abby Dahlkemper
Goals: Walsh 81