From the moment the opening whistle sounded, Everton were pegged back on their heels, struggling to deal with Manchester United’s intense pressure. The Red Devils won an early corner following a languid back pass, and the Blues were fortunate not to concede.
Several minutes later, the home side opened the scoring. Christen Press knocked a short pass to Jane Ross. The Scottish international returned the ball to Press, who picked out Ella Toone at the top of the 18. The young forward still had plenty to do; she struck a one-time shot out of the air and deftly placed the ball back across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.
Toone was back on the attack a short while later, getting on the end of another Press cross, but her shot fell directly into the arms of Sandy MacIver in net. United wasn’t done in the early stages of the match — a poor giveaway led to a Press header that missed wide.
As the half progressed, though, the Toffees grew into the contest. Nicoline Sørensen sent a teasing cross into the box that nobody got to. Hayley Raso then found Claire Emslie on top of the box for a look on goal. Raso missed another Sørensen pass. Gabby George saw her attempt sail over the net. And Emslie ended the quarter by driving at United’s defense and forcing a save from Mary Earps in goal.
In the 56’, an error by United’s defense gifted Everton possession, and Izzy Christiansen picked up the ball in the final third. The do-it-all midfielder sent a winding shot that was swallowed by Earps, who was busy five minutes later, this time doing well to keep Emslie off the scoresheet.
Raso then had a shot deflect over the left corner, and Christiansen sent her attempt into the side netting. As the seconds ticked away, the Merseyside outfit never managed to get the equalizer, and United put the game to bed when Ross netted in the 89’. With the league campaign now shut and closed, the focus turns to Wednesday, May 16th, when Everton meets newly-crowned champions, Chelsea, in the FA Cup fifth round.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
While there wasn’t a singular moment that encapsulated the game’s ethos, the main takeaway is that, as a team, Everton looks poised to build on this year’s fifth-place finish. With a talented roster, a competent manager and a detailed recruitment strategy, the Toffees showed what they are capable of over the course of 22 league fixtures this season.
Everton (3-4-3): Sandy MacIver; Rikke Sevecke, Megan Finnigan, Gabby George; Ingrid Moe Wold, Izzy Christiansen, Jill Scott, Poppy Pattinson; Nicoline Sørensen, Hayley Raso, Claire Emslie
Substitutes: Lucy Graham for Sørensen 64, Valérie Gauvin for Pattinson 76, Alisha Lehmann for Moe Wold 81
Unused Substitutes: Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Simone Magill, Maéva Clemaron, Grace Clinton
Bookings: Rikke Sevecke 90
Manchester United (4-4-2): Mary Earps; Ona Batlle, Amy Turner, Millie Turner, Kirsty Smith; Ella Toone, Katie Zelem, Lucy Staniforth, Christen Press; Jackie Groenen, Jane Ross
Substitutes: Leah Galton for Staniforth 61, Kirsty Hanson for Ross 61, Martha Harris for Batlle 68, Jess Sigsworth for Groenen 90
Unused Substitutes: Fran Bentley, Emily Ramsey, Maria Thorisdottir, Carrie Jones
Goals: Ella Toone 5, Kirsty Hanson 89