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Losada and Shaw score on Manchester City WSL debuts to crush Everton

The Manchester City manager, Gareth Taylor, praised his side’s “professional performance” after they crushed Everton’s hopes of an upset in their season opener with a 4-0 victory over the new-look home team.

Goals from the new City recruits Khadija “Bunny” Shaw and Vicky Losada as well as one each from the Olympic gold medallist Janine Beckie and the England captain, Steph Houghton, dealt a cruel blow to a team hoping to challenge at the top of the Women’s Super League this season.

Everton’s impressive summer, with nine arrivals, has turned heads, with many naming Willie Kirk’s side as the team that could go closest to upsetting the order and breaking up the established top three.

That it was Manchester City heading to Goodison Park for the club’s opening game – and the most one-sided fixture in WSL history, with City having won all 10 games between the two teams by an aggregate score of 26-4 – suddenly did not feel a problem. With the game sandwiched between the away and home legs of a tough Champions League qualifying tie with Real Madrid and City nursing a number of injuries, this looked a good time to be playing the 2020-21 WSL runners-up.

The goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck, the defensive midfielder Keira Walsh, the world player of the year, Lucy Bronze, and the forward Chloe Kelly are all out long term.

Just how big the gap is between the top and the rest was on stark display in the first half, though. Despite some even play in the middle, Everton’s back three of Nathalie Björn, Megan Finnigan and Gabby George left acres of space for the Canadian international Beckie and the former Evertonian Hayley Raso to surge into. The more space they got on the flanks the more the organisation of the defence crumbled. In the 26th minute City took the lead, with Caroline Weir’s cross deflected out from a scramble in the box as far as the former Barcelona and Arsenal midfielder Losada, who rifled in off the post from 12 yards.

Then, 10 minutes later and with the back three standing and watching, Beckie swept inside and fired in with all the time in the world. City had their third two minutes later, with Raso’s cross from wide poked in from close range by Shaw.

The problem was obvious and Kirk rang the changes at half-time, switching to a back four to try to restore some shape. “The back three didn’t work because the team didn’t function properly in every other area of the pitch,” said Kirk. “We knew we’d be up against a striker and two wingers, but we felt if we got everything else right we’d be OK and it was a risk worth taking.”

The switch shored things up. Suddenly the home team had something to build on and started to carve out some chances. City goalkeeper Karima Taieb twice saved from Danielle Turner and then did well after Toni Duggan released Claire Emslie. Everton were not clinical though and a free-kick from Houghton fired into the top corner extinguished any hopes of a comeback.

City are far from full strength and the ruthlessness with which they dispatched a hopeful Everton showed that Taylor’s team mean business. “It’s three points, that’s all it is,” he said. “With where we’re at, I did think a point here today would be a good result. Everton are a good team with good players and even at 4-0 they were putting us under pressure, they didn’t give up, so it was pleasing to get a clean sheet.”