Jess Park struck a brilliant double while Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw became the Club’s all-time record scorer as City went top of the Barclays Women’s Super League after a memorable 3-1 Etihad derby win over Manchester United.

In front of a crowd of more than 40,000, Gareth Taylor’s side served up a hugely impressive display, making it 11 league wins in a row to further fire up our assault on a first WSL title since 2016.

Park was City’s first half inspiration, capping a wonderful all-round performance with well-taken goals on 37 and 45 minutes.

Shaw then took centre stage immediately after the restart, latching onto Park’s inviting assist before firing home to register her 68th career goal for City to see her overtake Georgia Stanway and become our all-time leading scorer.

United claimed a late strike when Hannah Blundell’s cross was diverted in via Kerstin Casperij but it was little more than consolation.

With Chelsea not in action until Sunday when they visit West Ham, it means City are assured of top spot for 24 hours – and the manner of a magnificent and emphatic derby win only adds further impetus to our title charge.

What happened

It may have been the third Women’s Super League derby to be staged at the Etihad but, without doubt, this was the most significant yet.

With City vying for a first WSL league title since 2016, the meeting with United carried even extra meaning.

LET'S GO: Final words of encouragement ahead of kick-off.
LET'S GO: Final words of encouragement ahead of kick-off.

An issue which affected Laia Aleixandri in the pre match warm-up forced City into a late change ahead of kick-off with Alanna Kennedy stepping up to replace the Spaniard.

It was a cagey, slow burn opening with City dominating possession but United packed bodies behind the ball and seeked to counter at pace.

And it was the visitors who threatened first on 13 minutes, with City keeper Khiara Keating producing a superb save, diving to the left to deny a close-range snapshot from former City striker Nikita Parris after a quickfire United attack.

The hosts were also relieved minutes later to see a first-time effort from Brazilian star Geyse go just the wrong side of the post.

Having settled into their stride, City stepped up the ante and a thunderous 25 yard shot from Park on 28 minutes forced United keeper Mary Earps into a spectacular save as she flung herself to her right before parrying the effort away.

There was another scare at the opposite end on 34 minutes as a deflected 15 yard effort from Garcia almost looped inside the bar, Keating carefully shepherding the ball over the bar.

Park then was presented with an inviting opportunity after Hemp disposed Maya Le Tissier only to see her radar go askew.

FORWARD MARCH: Kerstin Casperij powers on.
FORWARD MARCH: Kerstin Casperij powers on.

A minute later Earps was then relieved to see a long-range Yui Hasegawa shot whistle just wide.

City were warming to the task and the pressure finally told as Park deservedly broke the deadlock on 37 minutes, registering her first WSL goal.

Having robbed the visitors off possession a rapid move saw Leila Ouahabi fizz in an inviting cross and Park leapt to volley home a superb finish.

It looked like City had doubled our tally a minute later through Bunny Shaw who chipped in from close range – only for the offside flag to cut short the celebrations.

United remained a threat though as another ferocious Geyse shot illustrated.

But it was City now in the ascendant and it came as no surprise when Taylor’s side doubled the advantage just before the half-time break through the inspirational Park once again.

UP AND AT 'EM: Lauren Hemp sets up another City attack
UP AND AT 'EM: Lauren Hemp sets up another City attack

It was a move stemming from a corner that was reminiscent of a City strike at Brighton a week ago, Hasegawa teasing in another inviting cross and Alanna Kennedy’s header presenting Park with the most inviting of close-range finishes.

Not surprisingly, City came out for the second half with an extra spring in our step – and within a minute we had further extended our lead in memorable fashion as Bunny Shaw struck to become City’s all-time leading scorer.

Park was at the centre of the action again providing a superb assist and Shaw did the rest holding off the best efforts of the United defence before bundling home for her 68th City career goal in her 82nd appearance seeing her overtake Georgia Stanway.

The Jamaican then had the chance to double her tally only to send a header just over after a teasing Lauren Hemp cross.

The visitors, to their credit, kept looking to attack and with 15 minutes left they reduced the arrears when Hannah Blundell’s cross was diverted in via Kerstin Casperij’s knee.

City though held firm in the face of a late United revival to claim the derby bragging rights and, far more importantly, stay right on the title trail.

GET IN: Jess Park celebrates after breaking the deadlock.
GET IN: Jess Park celebrates after breaking the deadlock.


CITY XI: Keating, Casparij, Kennedy, Greenwood (C), Ouahabi (Morgan 86), Hasegawa, Park, Coombs (Angeldahl 82) , Fowler, Bunny, Hemp 

Subs: MacIver, Stokes, Houghton, Mace, Pritchard, Blindkilde-Brown, Kelly

UNITED: Earps, Garcia, Le Tissier, Blundell, Zelem, Toone (Malard 85), Parris (Williams 58), Turner, Riviere (Mannion 58), Geyse, Naalsund,

Subs: Tullis-Joyce, Guerrero, Ladd, Evans, Rabjohn, Aherne

Attendance: 40,086

OH YES: The smiles say it all.
OH YES: The smiles say it all.

Player of the match

Jess Park had arguably been City’s under-appreciated player of the season so far ahead of today’s game – at least outside the confines of the Club.

Not any more.

A magnificent all-round display capped by those two first half strikes - her first in the WSL - provided further illustration on the biggest stage of all of what a special talent City possess.

The midfielder is thriving and has proved a huge factor in City’s charge for the title.

And at 22, even more encouraging is the knowledge that her best years are still to come.

Lethal weapon

Bunny Shaw is so often the player for the big occasion and our Jamaican striker delivered again when it mattered.

A goal one minute into the second half not only effectively ended the game as a contest it also etched her name into City history.

RECORD BREAKER: Bunny salutes the crowd after City career goal number 68
RECORD BREAKER: Bunny salutes the crowd after City career goal number 68

The goal was the 68th of her Etihad career to date and saw her overtake Georgia Stanway to become our all-time leading scorer.

It was her 18th goal of the season in all competitions – and the way she is playing few would bet against her adding to that tally in our five remaining games!


“I am very proud. The team look for me to score goals. We knew it was a massive game. It’s a title face and we want to keep going. We are out the cup so the league is the focus.

“You have to set high standards for yourself, work hard for the team and good things will happen. We spoke at half-time about not letting up.

“The first 20 minutes were a bit nervy but after that we were confident.”

Gareth Taylor’s reaction

On Jess Park: “With a player of that quality we have been talking about that final action.

Jess Park is quick and that is the icing on the cake, the assists she has had and now she is getting goals.”

On Bunny Shaw: “That was a fabulous goal, Bunny is making the movement it is not easy and going up against a good goalkeeper in Mary Earps - it gave us a great start to the second half.”

On the title race: “We have always been confident and the hard part is doing it.

“We are going against a title rival [Chelsea] who has been really successful over the years and we are trying to change that.

“But, we have to take one game at a time and we don’t need to worry what happens tomorrow - we will be giving it our very best.”

YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: City and Bunny celebrate.
YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: City and Bunny celebrate.

What it means

City go top of the Barclays Women’s Super League table – for 24 hours at least.

Gareth Taylor’s side now have 43 points from 18 games and lie three ahead of Chelsea who visit West Ham tomorrow afternoon.

With the race for the title at full tilt, it feels like City are coming to the boil at just the right time.

What’s next

City are next in action in seven days time when we make the short trip to take on Liverpool in another huge WSL game.

Kick-off on Merseyside is slated for 12.30 (UK).

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