City started the evening three points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, however goals from Filippa Angeldahl and Mary Fowler saw Gareth Taylor&aposs side climb above the Reds to top Group B ahead of their final group stage game against Leicester on December 17. It was a cagey first half with the hosts coming closest to taking the lead when Missy Bo Kearns&apos curling effort was well saved by Sandy MacIver.
City broke the deadlock shortly after the break, Angeldahl rifling the ball home after Liverpool failed to clear a Julie Blakstad corner. And Gareth Taylor&aposs side doubled their lead on the 74-minute mark, substitute Lauren Hemp dancing past the Liverpool defence down the left flank and putting the ball on a plate for Mary Fowler, who coolly found the back of the net.
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Reflecting on the performance, Taylor said: “I think in the second half our performance was top level. To play a half pitch practice against Liverpool and come out and engage player for player was really tough.
“Apart from a few little skirmishes we really controlled the game well and scored two really good goals. We arguably didnt do enough in the first half at the top end of the pitch but we certainly showed our quality in the second half.”
The Man City boss was given a welcome injury boost ahead of Sunday&aposs Manchester derby, with England forward Lauren Hemp returning to the matchday squad after recovering from a thigh injury. The 22-year-old made an instant impact, teeing up Fowler to put the visitors two up before spurning a good opportunity to extend City&aposs lead.
“I think its great for Lauren,” Taylor said.
“It was important tonight to get her onto the pitch for that confidence and I think providing an assist will be big for her. She looked a real threat, should have scored – I said to her it would have been goal of the season if she would have headed that in – but I think more so for the confidence levels to be there.
“We had to manage her appropriately as we have done with a few of the players but there were some really good performances tonight.”
Taylor made nine changes from the side that cruised past Brighton last weekend, and the Manchester City manager believes squad depth has been key to his side&aposs brilliant form this season.
” I think if you wind back to last year the difference is massive,” he said.
“We really were struggling to put out a team of players in their own positions let alone what were seeing at the moment where weve got real good options from the bench. That probably helps on the performance side of things and getting player availability higher.
“When you do that and have a bigger pool to select from, it really is great for you as a manager.”
Reflecting on the mood within his squad, Taylor added: “Theyre a great group to work with. They really respect each other and we enjoy the football that we play. We have a real identity and I thought we showed that tonight but theyre a dream to work with.”
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