Khadija Shaw scored four goals as Manchester City staved off a Brighton fightback and took a step closer to Champions League qualification with a thumping 7-2 win over the Seagulls.
Ellie Roebuck produced a huge save to prevent Julia Zigiotti Olme levelling the scores at 3-3 in the second half, before City upped the ruthlessness and ultimately recorded an emphatic victory.
City took 45 minutes to break Brighton down in the reverse fixture, but at the Academy Stadium they were ahead inside three minutes. Demi Stokes cut inside, danced through three Brighton challenges and played in Shaw, who finished coolly.
The Jamaican striker had her second 10 minutes later, Lucy Bronze keeping Caroline Weir’s cross alive, and Shaw tucking home from close range.
Shaw could have had a hat-trick inside a quarter of an hour, but her header from Lauren Hemp’s looping delivery was saved fantastically by Megan Walsh – only for Weir to lap up the rebound.
With City appearing to be running away with proceedings, Brighton were offered a route back into the game when Keira Walsh clumsily brought down Lee Geum-min. Inessa Kaagman lashed home the subsequent spot kick.
The hosts continued to dominate and saw multiple opportunities to restore their three-goal lead go begging. They would be made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness as remarkably Brighton pulled another one back on the stroke of half time. Lee fed Zigiotti, who finished superbly, bringing an end to a breathless 45 minutes.
Brighton came within a whisker of completing a stunning comeback 10 minutes into the second half. Kaagman picked out Zigiotti with a fabulous pass, and the Sweden international was denied by a fingertip save from Roebuck as she attempted to lift the ball over the City goalkeeper.
The save proved pivotal. Just moments after the Seagulls could have levelled, City countered, Walsh played in Shaw with a sumptuous pass and the City striker completed her hat-trick.
Shaw added her fourth and City’s fifth four minutes later, turning home Hemp’s cross after an electric burst of pace from the City winger. An Alex Greenwood header and a smart Hemp finish following a wonderful Weir pass completed the scoring as City’s charge towards Champions League football continues.
Kelly was a constant threat / Alex Livesey/GettyImages
GK: Ellie Roebuck – 7/10 – Made a crucial save to keep out Zigiotti and prevent Brighton from making it 3-3. Proved to be a game changing moment. Typically confident with the ball at her feet.
RB: Lucy Bronze – 7/10 – Kept the ball alive to set up City’s second and was an attacking menace throughout, effectively playing as a winger.
CB: Alana Kennedy – 6/10 – Struggled a bit against the lively Lee, occasionally looking stretched when Brighton countered.
CB: Alex Greenwood – 6/10 – Made a great recovery run and block to keep out a Lee half-chance in the first half. City not quite at their defensive best for about a 30 minute period either side of half time.
LB: Demi Stokes – 7/10 – Instrumental in City’s opener, waltzing through three challenges and playing in Shaw, and combined effectively with Hemp throughout. Gave the ball away in the build up to Brighton’s second.
CDM: Keira Walsh – 7/10 – Conceded a penalty with a clumsy, unnecessary challenge on Lee. Redeemed herself with a stunning through ball for City’s crucial fourth.
CM: Caroline Weir – 8/10 – Arrived in the box at the right place at the right to tuck home City’s third, with her impeccable timing of runs a constant theme throughout. Set up City’s seventh with a fabulous pass to Hemp, oozed class throughout.
CM: Georgia Stanway – 7/10 – Full of running and composed on the ball in tight spaces.
RW: Chloe Kelly – 7/10 – Always looking to get at the Brighton backline, really smart and tricky and a constant threat, before being replaced after an hour.
ST: Khadija Shaw – 9/10 – Showed great composure to find the bottom corner for City’s first, and great strength to hold off Koivisto for City’s second. Two more terrific finishes in the second half to cap an utterly ruthless display.
LW: Lauren Hemp – 9/10 – Dug out a smart, measured cross in the build up to City’s third. Burnt past the Brighton backline to set up City’s fifth, before getting on the scoresheet herself, cutting inside and bending in from close range. An utterly destructive display.
Sub: Hayley Rasso – 6/10
Sub: Ruby Mace – 6/10
Sub: Julie Blakstad – 6/10
Sub: Ellen White – 6/10
Sub: Filippa Angeldal – 6/10
GK: Megan Walsh – 5/10 – Conceded seven but couldn’t actually do a great deal about any of them. Made a good stop to deny Kelly in the first half.
RB: Maya Le Tissier – 3/10 – Had a tough time of it attempting to contain the pacy Hemp and the overlapping Stokes as City wreaked havoc down the left.
CB: Emma Kullberg – 3/10 – Surrendered possession in the build-up to City’s crucial fourth with a loose pass.
CB: Victoria Williams – 3/10 – Really sloppy in possession, playing Brighton into trouble on a number of occasions with loose passes out from the back.
LB: Emma Koivisto – 3/10 – Many of City’s best opportunities came from down the flanks, with Koivisto struggling up against the dangerous Kelly and Bronze.
CM: Inessa Kaagman – 6/10 – Confidently dispatched her penalty for Brighton’s first. Picked out Zigiotti with a sumptuous pass in the second half as Brighton came so close to levelling. A bit vulnerable defensively.
CM: Julia Zigiotti Olme – 6/10 – Produced a tremendous first time finish to find the corner for Brighton’s second and came so close to levelling the scores.
CM: Megan Connolly – 5/10 – Didn’t offer the Brighton back four a great deal of protection, struggled to deal with City’s dynamic midfield.
RW: Danielle Carter – 6/10 – Won the ball back well high up the pitch on a couple of occasions. Lost Greenwood in the build up to City’s sixth.
ST: Lee Geum-min – 8/10 – Pivotal in Brighton’s two first half goals, winning the penalty for the first and showing great awareness to pick out Zigiotti for the second. Stretched the City backline with her constant running and was a real threat.
LW: Kayleigh Green – 6/10 – Harried the City backline and won the ball back in the City half of a few occasions.
Sub: Danique Kerkdijk – 4/10
Sub: Aileen Whelan – 4/10
Sub: Emily Simpkins – N/A
Sub: Maisie Symonds – N/A
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