Today’s match was arguably the biggest womens Manchester Derby since its formation in September 2019. Manchester United lost that day, on their WSL debut and they have never managed to beat their local rivals in the WSL, or finish above them in the WSL table.
Manchester United have been on the ascendancy this season though, and they were looking to go level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table with a win today.
City have had a rockier start to the season, with a much younger and inexperienced team than in recent years, and were looking for a win today in order to stay in contention for the Champions League places come the end of the season.
You could tell how hungry both teams were for the win as soon as the whistle was blown. The players' energy matched that of the 44,000 strong crowd. Both sides were soon testing keepers Earps and Roebuck was shots and crosses into the box, but they were matched with equal defensive efforts and superb saves.
It would be the red side of Manchester to open the scoring in this derby. Leah Galton and Ella Toone played a lovely one-two and the former was able to twist and turn and put her shot past keeper Ellie Roebuck.
Manchester City seemed to really slow down after that goal and so United maintained their narrow lead as the teams headed into the break.
Manchester City came back out fighting in the second half and soon made it level to make an interesting end to the game.
Chloe Kelly swung in a beautiful cross into the box and Coombs was there to head it past Earps.
Manchester United were looking to restore their lead immediately though, and Haley Ladd’s turn and shot nearly came off if it weren’t straight at Roebuck.
Kelly’s crosses were still troubling the United defence though and the scorer of England’s winner at the euros was nearly on the scoresheet in the Manchester Derby.
Substitute Martha Thomas was a huge bright spark when she came on and Leah Galton nearly had an assist to add to her goal when Roebuck struggled to control Thomas’ chance.
Bunny Shaw was a highlight for City, but her header was not enough to trouble Earps in goal.
It just looked like both defences were starting to tire as the game approached the final 10 minutes, but that left lots of open spaces for their star-studded forward lines to cause damage.
There were scrambles in both penalty boxes, and Lucia Gargía almost scored the winner in injury time, but United’s ex-captain Alex Greenwood would be the one to deny the reds their first victory over their neighbours.
It was not to be for Manchester United on the day, their wait for a WSL win over their neighbours goes on and the race for the Champions League places remains as close as ever.
Manchester City: Roebuck, Casparij, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Ouahabi, Hasegawa, Castellanos, Coombs, Kelly (84), Shaw, Hemp
Subs: Maclver, Stokes, Houghton, Fowler, Angeldahl, Raso (84), Morgan, Kennedy, Blakstad
Manchester United: Earps, O.Batlle, Blundell, Toone, Zelem, Galton, Ladd, Le Tissier, Turner, Parris (71), Russo (83)
Subs: Baggaley, Thorisdottir, Tounkara, Boe Risa, Moore, Staniforth, L.García (83), Thomas (71), Williams