Manchester City returned to the top of the Women’s Super League with a comprehensive and convincing win away to the previously unbeaten Sunderland on a cold night at the Hetton Centre. With Lucy Bronze, Isobel Christiansen and Daphne Corboz having watched Chelsea return to the summit with an impressive 2-1 win at Liverpool on Wednesday, eyes were now turned to whether or not City could match them.
Despite facing a Sunderland side buoyant from rescuing a point at Liverpool the previous week it was City who dominated a first half which was a great advert for the Women’s Super League as two teams boasting players of superb technique were allowed to dominate.
The opening stages were end-to-end before City’s influence took over with the two best chances falling to Nikita Parris, volleying wide after Jill Scott and Steph Houghton combined on the right, and Kosovare Asllani, who headed into the hands of Laws after an excellent Demi Stokes cross.
Sunderland had their chances too as Stephanie Roche was denied by an excellent Karen Bardsley save, when the Irish International met a cross unmarked at the far post, being the best of them.
It was City who took a deserved lead on 41 minutes as a superb run through the middle by irrepressible Jill Scott played in Daphne Corboz, who instead of electing to shoot, slotted in Parris who fired an unstoppable shot past Laws at the near post. The goal capped of an impressive performance for the England International.
In the second half Sunderland stepped up their pressure and reminded everyone why they finished within touching distance of last season’s Champions League places but they couldn’t force the issue enough to trouble Bardsley in City’s goal. City might have wrapped the game up sooner then they when a world class cross-field pass from Demi Stokes released Asllani one-on-one but she was undone by an untimely bounce and sliced her shot over the bar.
The game turned on the substitutions as both Victoria Williams and Hayley Sharp were forced off for Sunderland, replaced by Megan Beer and Charlotte Potts respectively, within moments of one another whilst City replaced Asllani with the returning Toni Duggan. The England International wrapped up the points with her first touch as a Sunderland clearance was shanked into the path of Stokes, her vision played in Duggan who curled it past Laws into the bottom right hand corner.
The impressive Jane Ross might have made it 3-0, as well as five goals from five, late on after a magical through ball put her one-on-one but, on her left foot, shot straight into the hands of Laws in the Sunderland goal.
However it didn’t detract from a superb performance for City as part of an excellent game of football, which see’s them overtake Chelsea on goal difference ahead of Monday’s home game against Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Player of the Match: Demi Stokes (Manchester City)