Everton Women started off their promising new season with a deflating result at Goodison Park. Last year’s league runners-up Manchester City were the visitors and showed that the gap between the Toffees and top four was still a significant barrier for Willie Kirk and his side to overcome. With nine new faces to integrate, it will take some time for his vision for this Everton team to materialize.
The opening move for the home side involved two of the team’s newest signings — Kenza Dali drove at City’s defense and found Anna Anvegård on the right wing. The Swede then fed Dali in front of net, but the Frenchwoman scuffed her shot wide.
In the eighth minute, Canadian international Janine Beckie picked up a diagonal on the left wing, tore past Everton defender Nathalie Björn and rocked a shot on target. Fortunately for the Toffees, the attempt went straight at goalkeeper Sandy MacIver.
Five minutes later, MacIver again was called upon; Hayley Raso, who swapped Merseyside for Manchester this summer, sent a looping shot that forced a strong hand from the young shot-stopper.
Just shy of 20 minutes played, a poor Vicky Losada giveaway on top of the 18 gifted the Blues and Anvegård a free chance, and the forward powered a low shot that was saved by Karima Benameur Taieb.
In the 26’, however, Losada, who arrived from Barcelona, made amends. The move started with Beckie finding Caroline Weir, who fizzed a pass across the face of goal. And while MacIver got a foot on the cross, it ricocheted to Losada. The Spanish international picked a shot that caromed off the post and into the back of the net.
It took just 10 minutes for City to double their lead. Beckie, who had been active for most of the first half, eased her way past several defenders and cut a shot back towards the left side to beat a diving MacIver.
The visitors began to run away with the game in the 38’, as Raso danced through Everton’s defense and found Khadija Shaw in front of net. And if you give one of the top strikers in the world an open shot from six yards out, the ball most likely will end up in the back of the mesh.
The Toffees’ started the second half in fine form, and strong build-up play led to a free kick just outside the 18. Club captain Danielle Turner placed a left-footed shot past the wall, but Taieb was alert to the danger and parried the shot away with her right hand.
After an hour played, Izzy Christiansen beautifully picked out Toni Duggan at the top of the box, but the 30-year-old skied her attempt well over the frame.
Six minutes following Duggan’s miss, City captain Steph Houghton struck a sublime set piece that had MacIver rooted to the spot. As good as the attempt was, Houghton was aided by a static Everton wall; not a single player in the wall jumped in the slightest — one of the many mistakes the Blues committed on the day.
Credit has to be given to City, but Head Coach Willie Kirk got his tactics horribly wrong today, as the visitors constantly found acres of space on the wing and handily quashed most moves forward. The full-time whistle couldn't come soon enough, as the season got off to a rough start for the Merseyside outfit.
The Toffees are back in action Sunday, September 12 against Chelsea at 7:30 EST, 12:30 BST.
Everton (5-3-2): Sandy MacIver, Megan Finnigan (Hanna Bennison 46), Rikke Sevecke, Nathalie Björn, Gabby George, Danielle Turner, Izzy Christiansen, Aurora Galli (Lucy Graham 83), Kenza Dali (Claire Emslie 46), Anna Anvegård (Valerie Gauvin 83), Toni Duggan (Nicoline Sørensen 83)
Unused Substitutes: Courtney Brosnan, Poppy Pattinson, Grace Clinton
Bookings: Björn 92
Manchester City (4-3-3): Karima Benameur Taieb, Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton, Alex Greenwood (Alanna Kennedy 73), Esme Morgan, Laura Coombs (Jill Scott 81), Vicky Losada, Caroline Weir (Georgia Stanway 65), Hayley Raso, Khadija Shaw (Ellen White 65), Janine Beckie (Lauren Hemp 73)
Unused Substitutes: Khiara Keating, Ruby Mace
Goals: Losada 26, Beckie 36, Shaw 38, Houghton 67