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2022-23 English Women's Super League
  • Katie Zelem (13')
  • Leah Galton (28')
  • Alessia Russo (51')
  • Ona Batlle (76')
  • Rachel Williams (90'+3')

Man United thrash Aston Villa to go top of WSL

In the early kick-off on Saturday, Manchester United went top of the Women's Super League (WSL) with a 5-0 win over Aston Villa before fellow title chasers Chelsea and Arsenal took to the pitch in the staggered matches.

Playing at Old Trafford in front of a crowd of 30,196, the hosts took the lead 10 minutes in when Katie Zelem smuggled the ball home from point-blank range after Hannah Hampton had failed to get any distance on her clearance.

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The hosts made it two before the half hour when Alessia Russo split the Villa midfield with a slipped pass through to Ella Toone. Toone strode through before finding Leah Galton as she hugged the offside trap before firing beyond Hampton.

Undeterred, the visitors finished the first-half strong first, with Freya Gregory drawing a strong low save from Mary Earps before Alisha Lehmann had a goal disallowed for offside.

Having missed a chance seconds after the restart, Russo made no mistake five minutes later when she dashed behind Sarah Mayling and emphatically thumped Toone's square ball home.

Working the home defence better after the hour, Villa were presented with another opportunity to deny Earps a clean sheet when Rachel Daly was played through down the right. However, opting to look for Lehmann, Daly attempted to thread the ball through to her teammate rather than taking the goalkeeper on herself, with the odds favouring a strike directly from the England international.

A cross-cum-shot from Ona Batlle made it four for United, the sliced cross bouncing from the underside of the bar to the inside of the far post to finally settle inside the net. In cruise control, United were denied a fifth when referee, Louise Saunders pulled the play back for a foul on Galton after the attacker had, having been felled outside the area, sprung back to her feet and powered the ball home.

With the resulting free kick from Zelem, little for Hampton to worry about. Yet there was still time for a fifth when, with little more than half a minute of stoppage time left to be played, Rachel Williams rolled Batlle's low ball home, the Villa defence torn apart for the last time on the day with the whistle blown shortly afterwards, United top on goal difference alone.

Elsewhere in the WSL, Arsenal returned to winning ways against Everton with a 1-0 victory.

Despite being on the losing side, Emily Ramsey was the star at Meadow Park as she made 12 saves to keep the hosts out, the only blemish on her sheet for the match was Vivianne Miedema's superb lashed effort midway through the first half.

In the final match of the day, Chelsea returned to the top of the table with a relentless 8-0 thrashing of bottom of the table Leicester City.

Starting as they meant to go on, the Blues broke the deadlock on four minutes when Guro Reiten found the bottom corner with a low drive before Jessie Fleming added a second with a close-range volley.

Two became three when Fran Kirby flicked home two minutes before Niamh Charles nodded Reiten's corner over Demi Lambourne. Reiten nabbed her fourth assist of the day on the stroke of half-time after finding Sam Kerr with a deft ball into the box.

The goals continued after the break with Fleming grabbing her second of the match when Jemma Purfield's clearance dropped to her toe before Bethany England nodded in the seventh of the day less than ten minutes after coming on.

The match was wrapped up by Kirby eight minutes from time, taking Chelsea back to the summit of the WSL table. The reigning champions three points clear of both United and Arsenal although the Blues have played one match more than their nearest challengers.