Ella Toone was the star of the show as Manchester United battered Leicester City 11-1 at the Leigh Sports Village in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup this evening.
The Red Devils came into the match knowing that a win would all but guarantee their progression to the knockout stages of the competition and the only thing standing in their way was a side which they had trounced 7-0 and 6-1 last term. Striker Toone grabbed the headlines with five goals in the 11-1 mauling.
Things started exactly where they left off last season when Jess Sigsworth scored in the opening three minutes. A squared ball from Lizzie Arnot could only be parried by Leicester goalie Demi Lambourne and Sigsworth gathered the loose ball and fired home to put the FA Women’s Super League team 1-0 up.
A 1-0 lead quickly became two. Toone slotted a through ball down the channel for Arnot, who was having a lot of joy down the left early on, and the winger cut inside on her right and drove a delightful effort into the far top corner.
Toone then turned scorer when she was laid off on the edge of the area by Jane Ross and she drilled a low right footed effort into the bottom corner behind the outstretched arms of the keeper to make it 3-0. The 20-year-old was the scourge of Leicester City last season when she scored four goals against them in that 7-0 victory but this was just her first goal in any competition thus far this season.
Right-back Kirsty Smith then joined in on the fun. She beat Lambourne to a lofted ball over the top and with the defenders desperately back tracking to guard the open goal, she let fly with a left footed rocket to chalk up her first goal in a Manchester United shirt.
It wasn’t long before United then had their fifth and it was Toone again when she found herself through on goal and finessed a side-footed shot around the keeper.
Much to the shock of everyone in the ground, Leicester City were able to draw one back thanks to number nine Libby Smith. After some neat work to bring the ball down amongst a crowd of United defenders, she slotted the ball beyond debutant keeper Aurora Mikalsen.
Normal service quickly resumed when Ross’ fizzing effort could only be palmed by Lambourne straight into the path of Toone who forced the ball home to complete her hat-trick just before half-time.
After the interval it was more of the same. Lauren James, who had come on for Mollie Green, sprayed the ball out wide to Sigsworth whose whipped ball into the area was met purposefully by Ross who headed beyond the helpless sub goalie Scarlett Field.
Toone then continued where she left off in the first half to get her fourth soon after to match her tally in the 7-0 rout from last season, much to the delight of the 1,127 in attendance.
Things got even better for the home crowd when Hayley Ladd won the ball with the visitors pushing high up. She superbly lofted the ball over Field from 40 yards out to make it 9-1.
The home side showed no signs of slowing down and they made it 10 when Sigsworth crossed the ball low into Ross who scuffed her initial shot but like a magnet, the ball was drawn to Toone to bag her fifth and take United to double figures.
In the dying moments of the match the cherry on top of the cake arrived. With her back to goal and the ball at her feet, Lauren James twisted and turned to find a gap amongst the swarming Leicester City defenders. Although Field was able to get a substantial hand on the eventual shot, the power was just too great and it trickled over the goal line to make it 11-1.
This was United’s second-highest winning margin behind their 12-0 victory over Aston Villa in the opening FA Women’s Championship game of last season. They are now in a very commanding position at the top of their group where they could lose by five goals against Birmingham City in their final fixture and still qualify as group winners.
Leicester City on the other hand came into the group with zero expectations about progressing into the knockout stages but will still be bitterly disappointed to go out on these terms. Their focus turns to the league and having been run ragged by a dominant Manchester United side, you doubt they’ll come across a side that formidable in the FA Women’s Championship.