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Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa: Parris at the double
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Nikita Parris was Manchester United's match-winner
Nikita Parris was Manchester United's match-winner

Nikita Parris scored twice as Manchester United eased the pressure on head coach Marc Skinner with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the Women’s Super League.

Skinner had faced calls to leave from some fans, with United having been cast adrift of the top three after losing three of their previous five league matches.

But Parris scored twice in the first half as United earned only their second home league win of the season, with Rachel Daly pulling one back on the hour mark with a controversially awarded penalty.

Defeat capped a difficult week for Villa, who are waiting to find out if they will be expelled from the League Cup after fielding the ineligible Noelle Maritz as a substitute during Wednesday’s 7-0 victory at Sunderland.

Villa had actually made the livelier start at Leigh Sports Village, with top scorer Daly just unable to divert Kenza Dali’s dangerous right-wing cross towards goal, but it was United who went ahead in the seventh minute from their first significant attack.

Lucia Garcia retrieved possession as Villa sought to clear and fed Hannah Blundell, whose delivery from the left was glanced in by Parris.

United enjoyed a strong spell after that, with a Blundell shot gathered by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar and Ella Toone striking too high as she leaned back to meet a Lisa Naalsund cutback.

But Villa did seem to be finding a way back into the game when Parris scored again in the 33rd minute, hooking in the rebound when Garcia’s wonderful curling shot from the edge of the area was touched on to the post by Van Domselaar.

United could have had more by half-time, with Van Domselaar turning away a Geyse cross-shot on the run then pushing the Brazilian’s drive from a tight angle on to her near post as Villa switched off from Jayde Riviere’s quick throw-in.

Parris should have completed a hat-trick less than two minutes into the second half having been played clear by Naalsund, but fired too close to Van Domselaar who saved with her knee.

But Villa were much improved in the second half, with Jordan Nobbs’ bouncing long-range shot shovelled away by keeper Mary Earps seconds after former United forward Kirsty Hanson’s shot had been blocked by Riviere.

And Daly gave the visitors’ hope by blasting a 60th-minute penalty past Earps, the referee ruling the Villa striker had been pushed by Garcia at a corner.

Geyse, played in by Parris, had a chance on the break to restore United’s two-goal lead but drove across goal from a narrow angle.

Villa finished strongly, with Earps having to fly across goal to push away Hanson’s angled shot, but United – for whom Naalsund had a spectacular late effort tipped over by Van Domselaar – saw out the win.

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