Aston Villa Women were bested by a strong Red Devils side in their WSL season opener at Villa Park this weekend as Rachel Williams scored in injury time to give Manchester United the win

Written by Oscar Frost
Hi! I'm Oscar, and I'm one of your deputy editors for the coming year. I was also a sports editor for two years, and a writer for a year before that.
Images by Oscar Frost

A 91st minute goal from Rachel Williams saw the Red Devils edge past Aston Villa in the WSL opening weekend in front of a record attendance at Villa Park. Williams headed in from close range in the dying moments, rooting the Villa keeper to the spot. It was strangely reflective of Manchester United’s performance in that it was not pretty, but it got the job done for the visitors.

The game opened in the 73rd minute when debutant, Kirsty Hanson, flew into a tackle with Hayley Ladd far too aggressively. Her high boot meant that she saw a straight red against her previous club.

This sending off was followed minutes later by a goal for the home side, however, when Rachel Daly slotted in at the near post after 76 minutes. The record crowd erupted as the golden boot winner opened her 2023/4 scoring campaign.

The record crowd erupted as the golden boot winner opened her 2023/4 scoring campaign

This lead was short-lived, however, as the ball bounced around the Villa box before falling to Lucia Garcia to see home for the equaliser. The visitors were back in it after 79 minutes.

Ballon d’Or nominee Daphne von Domselaar made her debut for the lions after moving from Twente, with defender, Anna Patten, also making her debut following her move from Arsenal. The Dutch keeper had a fantastic game, making several saves during the prolonged period of pressure from United.

Von Domselaar was called into action early in the first half. United signing Geyse da Silva Ferreira came in from the right to force the Lion into a solid save to her left after about fifteen minutes.

Kirsty Hanson was picked to start up top after moving from the visiting Red Devils this transfer window.

The hosts were looking to better their fifth-place finish last season, and what better way to set that tone than against the fourth-place finishers last season. Instead, it was United who stated their intent to try and better their finish last season.

Despite not taking home any points, the hosts will nonetheless have some positives to take from this performance against a strong Red Devils side. They managed to keep out the tricky Ferreira, and score a goal despite being a player down.

The lions will face Liverpool next Sunday at Prenton Park, where they will look to get themselves their first points of the season.

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