A fifteen days after facing each other in the Women’s Super League, the two Manchester clubs met in the FA Cup. The WSL game was a close affair, which City dominated and edged with a sublime 20-yard chip from Caroline Weir. With United sitting fourth in the WSL table and City fifth, the tie would be a close one to call, especially as league form comes naturally out of the window in any derby cup clash.
Among the City fans waiting outside Leigh Sports Village were John (above center right) and David (above center left). John said: “It’s the first time I’ve come to see this…yes, it’s usually the men’s team. This old man here now (David) started looking at women and he loves it. So I hope it’s a blue win.
A mum with two children, the daughter is a City fan and the son is a United fan. When asked for a score prediction – girl: I think 2-1. Son: uh… 2-1 for United. Mom: I’m going 2-1 United. (His City fan daughter moans).
The match was shown live on BBC Two, with presenting duties taken by Alex Scott (top right), Rachel Brown (middle left) and Willie Kirk (middle right). The team’s WSL game in October 2021 drew a record audience of 1.1 million on BBC One and there were also 114,000 live broadcasts of the 2-2 draw on BBC Sport Online.
United started strong, pressing and harassing their neighbors and took the lead after 13 minutes when captain Katie Zelem’s corner curled in at the far post. City’s attempts to get back into the game for the remainder of the first half were thwarted by United’s impressive defensive end, with the visitors limited to a few half chances.
City made two half-time changes with Vicky Losada and Jess Park making way for Hayley Raso and Caroline Weir and they had an instant impact, Raso providing the cross which Lauren Hemp slotted home at the far post. The visitors continued to press and had their noses in front eight minutes later when Ellen White pounced on a weak header towards her United keeper Hannah Blundell, calmly rounded Mary Earps and dug in at the House. On the hour mark, another United error led to another City goal when Earps allowed Weir’s left-footed shot to squirm under her and inside the near post. Khadija Shaw added a fourth in the 79th minute with her first touch after coming on, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from two yards out after Hemp’s shot was parried on her way by the United keeper.
It was once again derby fun for City as they progressed to the quarter-finals with a superb second-half performance that led to a crushing 4-1 triumph over their neighbours. The Manchester side will again face opponents from the North West in the quarter-finals when they host Everton.