Football

Player ratings as Red Devils cruise to another WSL win


From Leigh Sports Village – Manchester United cruised to a second consecutive 4-0 home win by comfortably dispatching Brighton in the WSL on Sunday afternoon.

Ella Toone and Leah Galton ran riot in the first half as Marc Skinner’s team raced into a 3-0 lead – that’s seven first half goals for the team so far this season – and both finished the game with three direct goal involvements each. Substitute Adriana Leon made it 4-0 with her first goal for the club.

The hosts made a vibrant start to the game and the pace offered by the front three of Lucia Garcia, Nikita Parris and Galton looked like it would cause Brighton problems from the off. But it was the movement of Toone, ghosting into the box, where the early breakthrough came from.

The England star, for whom the reception from the home fans was enormous even before kick-off, found space in between Brighton defenders to calmly nod Ona Batlle’s deep cross back across goal.

Midway through the half, Toone cut in from the left for another good opening, but Seagulls goalkeeper Megan Walsh was equal to the shot. Yet Walsh stood no chance not long after when the same player was played through by Galton and carefully lifted her finish into the far corner.

Before half-time, Walsh was tested again, saving from Katie Zelem and Parris after good United moves. But she stood little chance when Toone returned the favour to Galton to make it 3-0 on 40 minutes, the latter sweeping a right-footed finish into the bottom corner after being put through.

Even with such a comfortable lead, there was at least a reminder of Brighton’s threat in first half stoppage time when Mary Earps flew across her goal to make a spectacular save to deny Elisabeth Terland, tipping the rasping drive wide of the post.

A shift in Brighton formation to 4-4-2 gave the visitors the kind of foothold after the restart that they had been sorely lacking in the opening 45 minutes, even creating a couple of half chances early on.

Brighton’s improvement and a number of substitutions from United slowed the rhythm of the game, but eventually the same themes as the first half cropped up. The pace of Leon off the bench was too much for the Seagulls through the middle and she finished clinically after Galton’s through ball.

Ella Toone

Ella Toone bossed the first half / Cameron Smith/GettyImages

GK: Mary Earps – 7/10 – Communicated really well as usual. Her voice was often the loudest on the pitch. But she also made a spectacular flying save in first half stoppage time.

RB: Ona Batlle – 7/10 – Again showed her attacking output with a pinpoint cross to give United the early lead. Always bursting forward.

CB: Maya Le Tissier – 6/10 – Solid against her former club.

CB: Millie Turner – 6/10 – Brighton struggled to threaten her.

LB: Hannah Blundell – 6/10 – Had a decent first half but didn’t reappear after the break. Not clear if it was injury-related.

CM: Katie Zelem (c) – 7/10 – Always looking for the ball and tried to pass forward between the lines as often as possible.

CM: Lucy Staniforth – 7/10 – Had a good amount of freedom to play in midfield and covered plenty of ground in that respect.

AM: Ella Toone – 9/10 – Her measured header was just what United needed to go ahead. Brighton found it difficult to cope with her movement and her second goal was also very well taken.

RW: Lucia Garcia – 7/10 – Looked an immediate threat with her pace. Saw a lot of the ball, almost like a wide playmaker.

ST: Nikita Parris – 6/10 – Gave United a different option by trying to run in behind the Brighton defence.

LW: Leah Galton – 9/10 –
Has a good record against Brighton and assisted the vital second goal by spotting Toone’s run. Scored a fine goal of her own and even added a second assist despite dropping to left-back at half-time.

SUB: Martha Thomas (46′ for Blundell) – 6/10 –
Worked hard as always.

SUB: Hayley Ladd (65′ for Staniforth) – 6/10 – Helped see the game out.

SUB: Vilde Boe Risa (65′ for Toone) – 6/10 – Involved in neat interplay.

SUB: Adriana Leon (65′ for Garcia) – 7/10 – First United goal.

SUB: Rachel Williams (81′ for Parris) – 6/10 –
Debut for the club.

SUB: Maria Thorisdottir (90+2′ for Batlle) – N/A

Manager: Marc Skinner – 8/10 – Clearly gave his players a message to attack with pace and tempo and will have been pleased to see that intensity. Made substitutions to rest some key players with the game won.

Lucia Garcia; Emma Kullberg

Brighton didn’t come into the game until the second half / Cameron Smith/GettyImages

GK: Megan Walsh – 6/10 – Made a number of saves but stood little chance with the goals that flew past her.

RB: Jorja Fox – 5/10 – Toone got in behind her for the opening goal as she stepped up but failed to cut out the cross.

CB: Kayleigh Green – 4/10 – Okay on the ball but struggled defensively.

CB: Victoria Williams (c) – 3/10 – Looked too slow and cumbersome to deal with the pace of the United attack. It was particularly obvious with United’s fourth of the game.

CB: Emma Kullberg – 5/10 – Moved to left-back in the second half and was better for it with less of a dual threat coming at her.

LB: Poppy Pattinson – 4/10 – Her forays forward were often headed off by the impressive Batlle. Off at half-time.

CM: Katie Robinson – 5/10 – Moved to the right-hand side after the break and was more influential because of it.

CM: Julia Zigiotti Olme – 4/10 – Found it really difficult to get on the ball and therefore her creativity was limited.

AM: Elisabeth Terland – 5/10 – Almost put Brighton on the score sheet with a great shot at the end of the first half, but Earps was equal to it.

AM: Lee Geum-min – 5/10 – Skewed an early chance wide at 0-0 that was made to look much worse in hindsight.

ST: Danielle Carter – 4/10 – Starved of real service.

SUB: Veatriki Sarri (46′ for Patttinson) – 4/10

SUB: Park Ye-eun (71′ for Carter) – 4/10

Manager: Hope Powell – 6/10 – Switched systems to a flat back four at half-time and it did improve things for her team. But at 3-0 down by then, it was already too late in terms of the result.

Player of the match – Leah Galton

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