Manchester United led the Women’s Premier League title until the final day of the season after Lucia Garcia scored in injury time to beat 10-woman Manchester City 2-1 at Leigh Sports Village.
The hosts needed to win or Chelsea, 2-0 winners at Arsenal earlier in the day, would have clinched the trophy before the final round of matches.
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Playing as a team with his entire season on the line, United fired off the blocks and were quickly rewarded for their positive play when the half-volley fell to Haylie Ladd to put her effort into the top right corner.
Despite their advantage, or perhaps because of it, the hosts eased off the throttle to open the game and rode their luck when Chloe Kelly couldn’t launch Bunny Shaw’s parried effort from the straight.
After the development in the game, City pulled another sterling block into the box, this time from Hannah Blundell to deny Philippa Engeldahl.
With the end of the first half approaching a goal down but well in the game, City’s chances of turning the tide took a huge blow when Ellie Roebuck came out of the penalty area and cleared Nikita Paris, prompting a straight red card from referee Rebecca Welsh.
Just as she did in the first half, Kelly saw an effort, albeit a deflected one, bounce off the wood moments before Shaw was denied a clear penalty when Ladd kicked her boot, rather than the ball, into the penalty area.
A series of chances came the hosts’ way but, just as last time, they failed to counter that lead and their title challenge looked doomed when Engildahl’s cross curled under the bar in the 68th minute.
With the crucial three points in both teams’ seasons both sides ramped up the pressure for the winning goal as the clock ticked down and not long after City subs Hayley Raso sent an effort wide of Marie Erbes, the United players who came off the bench combined to snatch the winner in time. Lost allowance.
From Blundell’s deep cross, fieldboy Raisa shook the ball back into the mixer to get Garcia off her feet and hit a home run, beating 18-year-old Chiara Keating into the City goal.
The result means United still have a chance of winning the Premier League title next week away to Liverpool if Chelsea lose to Reading or if Chelsea draw and United find more than five goals unanswered.
For City, a loss keeps them in fourth place and they need a thumping win over Everton next week in addition to losing Arsenal, if they are to climb to a third European berth.