Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly were Manchester City’s heroes as we recorded a hard fought 2-0 win over a determined Leicester at the Joie Stadium.

Despite boasting 65% possession and seven shots on target entering the final 10 minutes of the clash, the goal we craved looked to have evaded us as the visitors battled for a point.

But in the closing stages, Hemp produced a sensational scorpion kick from close range to break the deadlock before fellow England international Kelly doubled our advantage when scoring directly from a corner.

The victory extends our winning streak to eight straight matches and we move to the league’s summit on goal difference above Chelsea, having played a game extra, with the Londoners facing Everton on Sunday evening.

WHAT HAPPENED

Ahead of the meeting at the Joie Stadium, Gareth Taylor described the visitors as a ‘tough challenge’ who are ‘very compact in player for player scenarios.’

The boss’ pre-match sentiments rang true in the early exchanges with the Foxes setting up in a 5-4-1 formation and deploying touch-tight marking which meant chances were at a premium.

Alex Greenwood’s dangerous and inviting set-pieces were our best sources of sights on goal, but a combination of incredible goalkeeping by Lize Kop and valiant defending meant Leicester’s goal remained intact.

As those of a sky-blue persuasion would perhaps come to expect, City continued to produce our effective, aesthetically pleasing brand of passing football to carve open Willie Kirk’s side, but when entering the final third our threat was extinguished by heroic rearguard action.

Despite our dominance on the ball, the first real shot of the afternoon fell to Leicester on the break when Tutta Pelgander broke free of the defence but was sent wide by the presence of Kerstin Casparij before wildly lashing over the bar.

Undeterred by facing the first clear-cut chance, we went on the offensive and produced a slick move which saw the ball teed up to Filippa Angeldahl on the edge of the area, who lifted an effort into Kop’s hands.

In the closing stages of the first 45, Kelly’s influence on proceedings began to increase when she sent an effort down the throat of the visitors’ keeper before teeing up the Swede who also tested the Dutch stopper.

Unfortunately, that represented the theme of the first half with City probing, but not causing Leicester too many problems. 

The passage of play continued in the same fashion after the interval with the hosts pushing forward but being frustrated by the watertight visitors’ defence. 

However, a neatly constructed move almost brought the first goal when Leila Ouahabi drove down the left and slid the ball across the face of goal but the cross just evaded a stretching Angeldahl who would’ve tapped into an empty net. 

And the home fans inside the Joie Stadium thought the deadlock was broken by Bunny’s poked effort into the net moments later, but the Jamaican’s finish was ruled out for an offside.

A single goal separated the two side’s in the reverse fixture in October’s 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium, and it looked like the first goal would be vital in Manchester.

Angeldahl, who continued to see plenty of the ball, almost found it when her deflected effort was unconvincingly saved by Kop before it trickled towards the goal-line and Sophie Howard was across to clear.

City had our tails up with 25 minutes remaining and started to curse our luck in front of goal when Bunny thundered an effort off the post before the rebound fell to Laura Coombs, who looked certain to score, but Kop once again saved phenomenally.

In an attempt to inject his side with fresh attacking impetus, Taylor turned to Jess Park and Mary Fowler from the substitutes to impact proceedings.

And it paid dividends as City didn’t allow our frustrations to get the better of us when Hemp broke the deadlock in stunning fashion with a scorpion kick from close-range.

It provided a mixture of relief and elation which we used to double our lead shortly after when Kelly’s venomous whipped corner evaded all of those inside the box and found the back of the net.

The positivity around the Joie Stadium continued on the cusp of full-time when January arrival from Aston Villa Laura Blindkilde Brown was afforded her City debut by replacing Kelly.

Although somewhat harsh on Leicester, who defended valiantly, the victory was exactly what City deserved as our title credentials strengthened once again.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: KERSTIN CASPARIJ

Yet another tireless display by the Netherlands international who continued to impact proceedings in all three thirds of the pitch.

A constant attacking option down the right, her pace and prowess were on show at the Joie Stadium.

HOW WE LINED UP

Gareth Taylor named an unchanged team from the side who beat Tottenham Hotspur seven days before with Khiara Keating protected by a back four of Kerstin Casparij, Laia Aleixandri, Alex Greenwood and Leila Ouahabi.

Yui Hasegawa anchored our midfield behind Laura Coombs and Filippa Angeldahl.

Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw led the line either side of Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly who operated on either wing.

City XI: Keating, Casparij, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Ouahabi, Hasegawa, Coombs (Fowler 77’), Angeldahl (Park 63’) Kelly (Blindkilde Brown 90’+1’), Bunny, Hemp.

Unused substitutes: MacIver, Stokes, Morgan, Mace, Kennedy.

Leicester XI: Kop, Nevin (Siemsen 46’), Tierney, Bott, Howard, Rantala (Goodwin 88’), Cayman, Takarada (Pelgander 89’), Thibaud, O’Brien (Rose 67’), Momiki (Whelan 79’).

Unused substitutes: Leitzig, Palmer, Ale, Baker.

WHAT IT MEANS

Victory over the Foxes means we move to the top of the WSL goal difference having played a game more than Chelsea who lock horns with Everton this evening.

FA WSL
1 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 18 15 1 2 49 12 37 46 WWWWW
2 Chelsea FC Chelsea Chelsea 17 14 1 2 50 14 36 43 WLWWW
3 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 18 13 1 4 42 18 24 40 LWWLW
Last updated: 14 April 2024

WHAT’S NEXT

City’s next assignment is a trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter finals of the Continental Cup.

The clash at Brisbane Road kicks-off at 19:30 (UK) on Wednesday 7 February.  

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