Liverpool suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United as Scouser Nikita Parris’ stunning strike was the only goal of the game.
A battling tie in Birkenhead ended with Manchester United travelling home with all three Continental Cup points.
From the off United looked to penetrate the Liverpool defence down the right-hand side, and their early persistence nearly paid off as a smart pass released Parris. Her shot stretched Teegan Micah in the Liverpool goal but zipped wide of the far post.
Again, Parris found room on the wing after a perfectly weighted through ball from Ella Toone but her cross failed to find anybody at the back post.
The game started to turn one sided as a vicious cross from the left looked destined to gift Parris her seventh goal in six games, but for a last-ditch interception by Liverpool defender Niamh Fahey before another snapshot from the away side drifted wide, to the relief of the home crowd.
The United midfield appeared to have the perfect balance of strength and flair, as Hayley Ladd provided an element of security on the ball whilst Toone dropped in and looked to link up with her fellow forwards.
The home side were however more than willing to answer to the oncoming pressure with a strong backline bolstered by the return of their captain Fahey whilst Micah wasn’t afraid to come out and collect the floated balls that came her way, taking a strong knock to the ribs for her troubles.
Japanese international Hinata Miyazawa’s relentless pressing saw her intercept a Liverpool pass in a dangerous position, and a pinpoint cross from Parris found the head of veteran striker Rachel Williams, but her header bounced kindly into the keeper’s gloves.
The Toone and Parris link up eventually broke the deadlock as Parris ran short for the number seven’s corner before cutely wriggling past her marker and nestling a beauty from the edge of the box into the top left corner. The girl from Toxteth left a sour taste in the home supporters mouths just before half time.
— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) November 22, 2023
A yellow card for Lucy Parry for a deliberate handball added insult to injury at the break.
Matt Beard’s halftime team talk appeared to have fired his players up and from the off they showed intent, and caused havoc in United’s penalty box on more than one occasion.
Melissa Lawley’s work on the right had hearts in mouths as her cross was just about dealt with. Moments later her clever turn drew a cynical foul from midfieler Ladd and she became the first Red Devil in referee Melissa Burgin’s book.
Marc Skinner’s side struggled to pick up where they’d left off at the break and it was Liverpool who seemed the more likely scorers. The substitutions of first half stars Toone and Parris bemused spectators as United didn’t seem to have the same sharpness.
More fantastic work from Lawley saw a cross fall to the feet of Missy Bo Kearns and her half volley at point blank range forced a tremendous save from Phallon Tulli-Joyce.
The shift in momentum saw the game open up and the end-to-end attacks were echoed in the stands, as hostility grew.
Lawley continued to force corner after corner and when one of them met the head of central defender Jenna Clark, she would have been disappointed to see it sail over the bar.
It really was turning into something you couldn’t keep your eyes off and a long range strike from United’s Lucia Garcia forced a good diving save out of Micah before the Spaniard had no other option at the other end but to trip Lawley and pick herself up a yellow.
Kearns again found herself in a good position as the fourth official threw up the board that confirmed there would be six added minutes. Her shot however, was dragged wide.
In a tight affair, it was United who prevailed courtesy of a wonder strike from their very own Scouser. The win puts them on two wins from as many games in the competition with clean sheets in both fixtures.
— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) November 22, 2023
Defeat for Liverpool makes it one win in eight, despite a gutsy performance. They’ll look to bounce back on Sunday in the WSL as they host Brighton & Hove Albion.