Manchester City rounded off the 2022/23 campaign with a 3-2 victory over Everton in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

The hosts, sporting the new 2023/24 kit, had to wait until the second half for the breakthrough, with Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw coolly slotting home her 30th of the season soon after the restart when combining with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp.

The goal had the desired effect, with Hemp curling home a phenomenal second on the hour, before Shaw added another to her tally from close-range.

Everton would grab two late strikes through Lucy Graham and Leonie Maier, but it did little to dampen an impressive second half display from City as we went the entire season unbeaten at the Academy Stadium.

What happened?

Before the action got under way, both sides united to celebrate the incredible career of Everton skipper Izzy Christiansen.

The former City midfielder announced she would call time on her playing days earlier this week and was handed a bouquet of flowers from her former team-mate Steph Houghton ahead of kick-off, as well as a guard of honour.

Gareth Taylor’s side began the match in lively fashion.

Indeed, Deyna Castellanos flashed a volley wide inside 30 seconds before Lauren Hemp found the top of the crossbar with a looping header.

But the visitors, already assured of a sixth placed finish ahead of kick-off, weren’t there to make up the numbers.

Brian Sorensen’s side perhaps enjoyed the best of the play following those early forays from City as we began to slowly find our feet in the Academy Stadium sun.

Gareth Taylor’s side still looked the more threatening in advanced areas though, with Kelly curling an effort just over the bar on her weaker foot after a well-worked move.

Soon after, City were thankful to young goalkeeper Khiara Keating who had to be alert to beat Nicoline Sorensen to a loose ball after 25 minutes, while the visitors also couldn’t believe referee Kirsty Dowle didn’t point to the spot after claims of a handball in the City area were waved away.

On balance, it was a slightly off-colour display by our usual standards in the first half, with Filippa Angeldahl’s deflected effort flashing just wide of the post on the break.

But the hosts were much brighter after the break, with Hemp sending a vicious drive inches past the upright early on.

And the breakthrough would come inside six minutes of the restart, with a familiar attacking trident behind the opener.

It was Shaw who started and finished off the move, with Kelly and Hemp combining expertly to tee up the Jamaican with a typically clinical finish for her 19th league goal of the season.

Gareth Taylor’s side were really in the mood now, with Castellanos stinging the palms of Courtney Brosnan soon after.

Everton were on the ropes as Brosnan surrendered possession cheaply under pressure, with the keeper thankful for a timely block to deny Shaw from grabbing her second of the day before the hour.

But number two would follow in exquisite fashion before the hour.

Picking up play on the right having switched flanks with Kelly, Hemp cut onto her favoured left foot and whipped an unstoppable effort into the top corner off the Everton bar.

It was a moment of brilliance in what was an excellent second half performance from the 22-year-old.

Everton skipper Christiansen was replaced soon after, receiving a standing ovation from the Academy Stadium crowd, as well as both sets of players.

It was a send-off befitting her stature for both sides, but City were soon focused back on extending our advantage.

And a third would follow with 20 to play, as Shaw took her time to pick her spot and fire home a 50th goal in sky blue.

The strike also saw her surpass Nikita Parris’ record for the most league goals in a single campaign, which had stood at 19.

Everton would pull a goal back in the 79th minute when an unmarked Graham tapped home from close-range after City had failed to deal with a ball across the area.

It did little to tarnish an impressive performance from Taylor’s side though, with Shaw smashing into the side netting as the game ticked into stoppage time.

The final act would fall to the visitors though, with Maier finishing on the rebound after Keating had pulled off a fine diving save.

Player of the Match: Lauren Hemp

An outstanding strike to double our advantage on the hour capped off what was an impressive overall performance from the winger.

Hemp provided her usual blend of tenacity, pace and quality on the ball which City fans have become accustomed to over the past five years.

What it means

City finish fourth in the WSL, with only goal difference keeping us behind Arsenal.

We picked up 47 points from our 22 league fixtures, winning 15, drawing two and losing on five occasions.

How we lined up

Khiara Keating started between the sticks, shielded by a back four of Esme Morgan, Steph Houghton, Alex Greenwood and Leila Ouahabi.

Yui Hasegawa, Filippa Angeldahl and Deyna Castellanos made up the midfield three, with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp starting on the flanks, leaving Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw to lead the line.

City XI: Keating, Morgan (Coombs 79’), Houghton (C), Greenwood, Ouahabi (Casparij 84’), Angeldahl, Hasegawa, Castellanos (Dahou 84’), Kelly, Shaw, Hemp (Raso 84’).

Everton XI: Brosnan, Veje (Maier 87’), Bjorn, Holmgaard, Stenevik (Sevecke 72’), Hope, Galli, Christiansen (C) (Bennison 60’), Wheeler, Snoeijs, Sorensen

Subs: Ramsey, Clark, Wilding

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