The Barclays WSL kicked off at the Etihad Stadium in front of a WSL record attendance (for 24 hours at least) of 31,123 as Manchester overcame Manchester , winning 1-0.
The games first chance came on two minutes as City’s pressing forced Mary Earps to concede possession and Jill Scott drove forwards at the United defence; her ball found Georgia Stanway in time and space but her effort from outside of the box was driven well wide.
United responded two minutes later with a chance of their own, a well worked move down the left found Leah Galton in space at the edge of the area but her first time effort flew just over the bar.
There was an early stoppage as Stanway chased a Janine Beckie through ball only to catch Earps on her ankle in the follow through; the United goalkeeper was able to continue but did so in some discomfort. The game petered through the opening quarter of an hour with neither side willing to risk surrendering possession.
The game crackled into life on 23 minutes as City switched off allowing Jackie Groenen to burst down the left with her inch perfect cross finding Jane Ross unmarked inside the six-yard box; The Scottish international could only look on in horror as her volley was turned over the bar thanks to a world class save from Ellie Roebuck in the City goal.
United, spurred by the goal, grew into the game and should have again scored when a deep cross from the right by Jane Ross found Groenen arrive late at the far post but her header was wide of the post.
City responded on 40 minutes, Keira Walsh cutting across her marker before releasing Tessa Wullaert down the right; the Belgian international drove towards goal before sliding in Caroline Weir but her shot was straight into the United goalkeeper’s hands. Despite both sides exchanging a pair of free kicks in stoppage time it remained goalless at half time.
The deadlock was broken three minutes after the restart as Caroline Weir capitalised on a poor United clearance from Katie Zelem before arrowing an unstoppable effort across Earps and inside the far post from 20 yards out.
City looked the more dangerous side in the opening stages of the second half. However, the two teams exchanged chances just after the hour mark as, first, United switched the ball from right to left releasing Groenen down the left. The Dutch international left Aoife Mannion on the floor before forcing a parry at the near post from Ellie Roebuck at the near post. From the resulting corner City had their best chance of the game as Janine Beckie broke down the right but waited too long to slip in the unmarked Jill Scott allowing Amy Turner to close down the angle and deny City with some world class defending.
City continued to look strong in the final third as they won the ball high up the field through Weir; the goalscorer was influential in the build up before Stanway fired over from close range at the near post. United went closer again as Jackie Groenen beat Gemma Bonner to the ball, weaved in and out before slipping yet somehow managing to deflect the clearance off the inside of the post with Ellie Roebuck swallowing the loose ball.
Despite both sides pushing for a goal late on City hung on and secured the three points they just about deserved on the basis of the second half.
City: Roebuck, Mannion, Houghton ©, Bonner, Stokes, Scott, Walsh, Wullaert (Geum-Min 82 mins), Weir, Beckie, Stanway.
Subs: Benameur, Coombs. Bremer, Toland, Park , Fidalgo
United: Earps, Okvist (A.Turner 56 mins), McManus, M.Turner, Ladd, Zelem, Toone, Groenen, Galton (Hanson 76 mins), Sigsworth, Ross (James 79 mins).
Subs: Mikalson, Harris, Arnot, Smith.