The Jamaican striker enjoyed a day to remember, bagging a brace inside 12 minutes and two quickfire goals either side of the hour mark, to inspire Gareth Taylor's side to a crucial victory on a thoroughly entertaining afternoon at the Academy Stadium.
Caroline Weir was also on the scoresheet in a blistering start to the game, handing the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead after just 16 minutes, but the Seagulls produced a spirited fightback with an Inessa Kaagman penalty and Julia Zigiotti effort before the break.
Shaw's second half double, an Alex Greenwood header and Lauren Hemp strike sealed the points in style, extending our sensational winning run to 19 in our last 21 games in all competitions, lifting City above Manchester United in the table with just two games left to play in the race for a Champions League spot.
There was further cause for celebration on an entertaining afternoon at the Academy Stadium, as Lauren Hemp marked her 100th City game with a win.
City came flying out the blocks with a goal inside three minutes, as Shaw bagged her 15th goal of the season. Demi Stokes was the creator, embarking on a mazy run and sliding an inch-perfect through-ball into Bunny’s path and the forward made no mistake, drilling past Megan Walsh and into the far corner.
The Jamaican striker almost made it two a minute later but was inches away from connecting to Chloe Kelly’s fizzing delivery, while Georgia Stanway sought to continue her impressive scoring record against the Seagulls but fired straight at Walsh.
Shaw almost turned provider, playing through to Hemp who smashed wide, but would grab the second herself, collecting and scrambling home Lucy Bronze’s cross at the near post.
It was three on the quarter-hour, courtesy of Weir’s 14th of the campaign, as the Scotland international tucked away the rebound after Walsh had done well to deny Shaw a quickfire hat-trick with a header from Hemp’s delivery.
The visitors pulled one back from the penalty spot, after former City midfielder Lee Geum-min had been upended by Keira Walsh, as Kaagman sent Ellie Roebuck the wrong way to end our impressive run of six league clean sheets.
Stanway almost restored our three-goal advantage but her deflected first-time effort ricocheted kindly for Walsh to claim, while Weir also smashed over the bar and Kelly stung the palms of the Seagulls ‘keeper.
The visitors reduced the deficit on the brink of half-time. Once again, Lee was the creator, driving down the right flank and crossing for Zigiotti to clip past Roebuck.
Inspired, Brighton pressed forward in the second half, chasing an equaliser and Roebuck was called into action to deny Kayleigh Green and Zigiotti - the latter with a superb fingertip stop.
Heeding the warning, City stepped up and Shaw completed her treble to give the home side breathing space, latching onto Walsh's pass and firing home.
Four minutes later, she had her fourth goal, thumping home Hemp's cutback into the nearpost after the England star had burst to the by-line for her 18th goal of the campaign.
Greenwood then made it six, nodding home Weir's corner, and Hemp added a superb seventh curling expertly from a tight angle to mark her special day with a deserved goal.
With seven goals, another three points and just two games remaining, City have ignited our firepower at the perfect time.
What it means
City move into third spot, two points above fourth-placed Manchester United with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.
Taylor's side have two games remaining, facing Birmingham and Reading this week, while the Reds entertain West Ham on Sunday before travelling to Chelsea seven days later.
HOW WE LINED-UP...
CITY XI | Roebuck, Bronze, Kennedy (Mace 73') Greenwood (C), Stokes, Walsh, Stanway, Weir (Angeldahl 78'), Kelly (Raso 64'), Hemp (Blakstad 73'), Shaw (White 78')
SUBS | Keating, Taieb, Coombs
BRIGHTON XI | Walsh, Le Tissier, Kullberg, Williams (Kerkdijk 62'), Koivisto, Connolly (Simpkins 88'), Zigiotti, Lee (Symonds 88'), Kaagman, Carter, Green
SUBS | Startup, Gibbons, Bowman, Whelan, Bance
Player of the Match: Bunny Shaw
With her hunger evident from the first whistle, Khadija Shaw had a point to prove and she staked her claim in emphatic fashion, showcasing excellent composure, strength and finishing ability to inspire City to a memorable win. A day she'll never forget.
• Khadija Shaw has scored 18 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions in her debut season.
• Lauren Hemp made her 100th appearance and scored City's 100th goal of the season. The youngster has clocked 81 league matches – no player has played more WSL games before turning 22. She has 29 goals - the same number as Georgia Stanway for a player aged 21 or younger in the WSL, while Hemp has the most assists before turning 22.
● City have won six of our seven FA Women’s Super League matches against Brighton, scoring 34 goals across those six wins.
● Gareth Taylor's side became the first WSL side to score 6+ goals in three consecutive matches against an opponent.
City host Birmingham on Wednesday 4 May in a 19:00 (UK time) kick-off before completing our league campaign with a trip to Reading on Sunday 8 May (12:00).
The 2021/22 season completes with a mouth-watering FA Cup Final clash with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 15 May (14:30). Tickets are on sale.
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