Caroline Weir’s chip seals Manchester City’s WSL derby win over United

A stunning chipped effort from Caroline Weir was described as “Eric Cantona-esque” by Lucy Bronze after it sealed a 3-0 win for Manchester City over derby rivals Manchester United.

“Which is quite ironic,” she added of the goal that helped City to leapfrog Cantona’s former club and pull to within two points of Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea.

Goals in either half from Bronze herself and then Lauren Hemp had put City, who did not at any point look ruffled by a dogged but tiring United press, deservedly in the driving seat before Weir caught Mary Earps off her line.

“I’m surprised she picked the United player,” laughed City manager Gareth Taylor. “It’s probably before her time so she won’t remember Glenn Hoddle’s for Spurs, very similar chip on the angle like that with real quality.”

After an unbeaten run which stretched into January, United have lost twice in their last four games. The first was not altogether unexpected, a 2-1 defeat away at champions Chelsea. The second, though, last Sunday, was a shock 2-0 loss at home to Reading and it enabled City to play catch up.

The momentum had shifted, literally and psychologically. City had won six league games in a row, the last that morale boosting win against Arsenal, before welcoming United to the Academy stadium on a chilly night. Meanwhile, United, having relinquished their berth at the top of the table to Chelsea, had opened the gates on what had increasingly looked like a two-horse title race.

“We’ve conceded five in two [games], if you are going to win a title you can’t do that,” said a disappointed Casey Stoney. “Champions League qualification is still in our hands and that has always been our aim.”

They have a hefty injury list which – while Stoney has been at pains to not use as an excuse – is growing. The loss of star winger Leah Galton, the Barclays player of the month for December, late in the first half was a bigger blow as a result.

After a cagey start, it would be City who would look the more comfortable and in the 23rd minute they had the edge. Again, United conceded from a set piece, with both goals at the weekend having started with dead balls. A corner was weakly headed into the air at the near post by former Chelsea defender Maria Thorisdottir and it landed kindly for the Best Fifa player of the year, Bronze, who lashed past England keeper Earps.

You can imagine how frustrated I am tonight,” said Stoney of another conceded goal from a set piece. “It’s bitterly disappointing to come here and concede three preventable goals in my opinion.”

A brief United resurgence around the hour mark would be snuffed out by City’s second. Chloe Kelly, who had provided eight assists in her last five games, smacked a shot which was parried by Earps into the path of Hemp who hit it first time and it spun in, taking a defection off Amy Turner’s head on the way in.

Turning the screw, a poor clearance from Christen Press allowed Weir, the former Puskas goal of the year nominee, to twist on the edge of the box and spin a chipped effort over a starnded Earps and in.

City have six points from two big games. “It’s amazing, I’m not gonna lie,” said Taylor. “I did say before these two games that they’re going to go a big way to deciding what’s going to happen but there’s still a lot of football to come. I still think there’s more twists and turns, we need to be cautious.”