Everton winger Claire Emslie has been one of the few bright spots this season, and she showed why in front of 20,000 fans Sunday afternoon in what ultimately wound up a 3–1 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Emslie got on the end of a Kenza Dali through ball and buried a shot past United goalkeeper Mary Earps to give her side a one-goal advantage. The marker came after just four minutes of play, putting Everton on the front foot for once.
Everton showed defensive composure in the first half. And aside from a 35th-minute Alessia Russo looping header that knotted the score, the two sides played each other evenly and went into the half tied at one goal apiece.
The second half saw things start to unravel for Everton; substitute Lucy Graham lunged in the box and conceded a cheap penalty in the 53’, and United midfielder Katie Zelem converted from the spot to give United a 2–1 lead.
But the Manchester outfit wasn’t done scoring; Russo bagged her second goal of the afternoon in the 84’ with another header, this time off a corner kick.
A glance at the scoresheet belies how competitive the Toffees were on Sunday. The Red Devils outshot the Blues 16 to seven and held the advantage of shots on target, six to one. United also earned 63% possession. But Everton had its moments throughout the 90 minutes.
Still, it is revealing that Everton managed just one shot on frame and rarely troubled Earps in net. The Toffees have scored the fourth-fewest goals in the Women’s Super League this season, and no player has netted more than twice outside of forward Anna Anvegard, who has four tallies. Additionally, the Blues have conceded the third-most goals in the league for one of the most putrid goal differentials in the WSL.
A loss plus an Aston Villa draw means Everton is now tied with Villa in ninth with 17 points. Both teams have played 18 matches. Leicester City, which suffered a 9–0 dismantling against Chelsea, failed to gain ground and remains in 11th with 12 points. Ahead of Everton and Villa is Reading with 24 points.
Next up for Everton is a must-win away outing on Friday against bottom-dwelling Birmingham City, a side that has managed one league win all season and has taken just four points through 17 fixtures. The contest is just one of four remaining in the league this season.