Manchester City kept the pressure on the top three of the Women’s Super League with a comfortable home win against Brighton.
All three of the hosts’ goals came in the opening 26 minutes as fourth-placed Gareth Taylor’s side got off to a flying start at the Academy Stadium.
City were imperious in the first half with England striker Chloe Kelly at the heart of it all.
Kelly’s corner led to the first goal as Brighton keeper Megan Walsh escaped a legal catch and the ball went past Seagulls midfielder Veatriki Sarri in the 11th minute.
Julie Blakstad doubled the lead eight minutes later with a superb diving header to deflect Kelly’s left-footed cross shot into the bottom corner.
Then, with Brighton reeling, Laura Coombs added a 26th-minute third with a ferocious strike from 20 yards that gave Walsh no chance.
City could have increased their lead before the break and would have done so had it not been for a fine save from Walsh to keep Coombs in stoppage time, while Deyna Castellanos hit the post early in the second period.
Brighton improved a lot after the restart, however, and were rewarded for their efforts with Lee Geum-min’s scrambled consolation in the final minute.
The victory moved City within three points of Manchester United and Arsenal in second and third places, while Brighton fell to second.
Kelly shows star quality to torment Brighton
Chances are, Lionesses forward Kelly has already had the moment she will remember the most.
To score to win England in extra time at Wembley was truly a dream.
But at 24, Kelly has time to create plenty of other memorable moments, and on this show, you’d expect them not to be too far away.
Super sub in that famous triumph over Germany, everything she did against Brighton suggests Kelly can shine brighter on the international stage.
You had to feel Brighton left-back Poppy Pattinson with the way Kelly seemed to play with her throughout the first half, cutting inside one minute before passing her outside the next.
One particular run early in the game had Pattinson in such a tangle that it was impressive she even managed to stay on her feet.
With the match won, Kelly was retired on the hour mark, but still created seven chances in the match – four more than anyone else.
She might not have been able to top off her performance with purpose, but she was the ultimate creator, both for herself and for others.
Manchester City Women
- 2CasparijReplaced byMorganat 61′minutesBooked at 90 minutes
- 5Green wood
- 15OuahabiBooked at 52 mins
- tencastellanosReplaced bymassat 73′minutes
- sevenCombesReplaced byAngeldahlat 45′minutes
- 9KellyReplaced byrasoat 61′minutes
- sevenSarriBooked at 33 minsReplaced bybankedat 85′minutes
- 14To park
- Cheryl Foster
Match ends, Manchester City Women 3, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 1.
Second Half ends, Manchester City Women 3, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 1.
Objective! Manchester City Women 3, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 1. Lee Geum-Min (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) shoots with a left footed shot from very close range in the center of the goal following a free kick.
Lee Geum-Min (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the center of the box. Assisted by Poppy Pattinson following a free kick.
Esme Morgan (Manchester City Women) is shown the yellow card for dangerous fouls.
Foul by Esme Morgan (Manchester City Women).
Katie Robinson (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) scores a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Manchester City Women. Corner conceded by Poppy Pattinson.
Attempt blocked. Esme Morgan (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Filippa Angeldahl (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from the center of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Hayley Raso with a header.
Failed attempt. Julie Blakstad (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from very close range is too high. Assisted by Hayley Raso.
Failed attempt. Hayley Raso (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses on the left. Assisted by Esme Morgan with a headed pass.
Replacement, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Libby Bance replaces Veatriki Sarri.
Foul by Ruby Mace (Manchester City Women).
Megan Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Khadija Shaw (Manchester City Women) header from very close range is blocked in the center of the goal. Assisted by Hayley Raso from a cross.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Corner conceded by Alex Greenwood.
Foul by Ruby Mace (Manchester City Women).
Lee Geum-Min (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, Manchester City Women. Ruby Mace replaces Deyna Castellanos.