WSL Matchday 14 round-up: Russo hat-trick extends United's lead to three points
Alessia Russo scored a hat-trick as Manchester United extended their Women’s Super League lead to three points with a 5-1 win over Leicester.
The England striker’s three clinical finishes, her first ever WSL treble, put the Red Devils in control at Leigh Sports Village before Leah Galton and Lucia Garcia added gloss to a commanding win.
Sunday’s result against the bottom side ramped up the pressure on champions Chelsea, who were defeated 3-1 by Arsenal in the Continental Cup final later in the day.
United rejected two world-record bids from the Gunners for Russo, 24, in January and manager Marc Skinner is delighted to have the Lioness spearheading his side's title push.
Skinner said: "Now the window has died down, we can get back to focus. She is an unbelievable talent and a big part of what we are trying to build here.
"She's a massive part of this club and I believe she can do that more often.
"It's just now about getting her into that zone where she continues to do it."
United are now three points clear of rivals Manchester City, with the Blues a further point behind but with two games in hand.
On the fiercely contested title race, United's boss added: "All we can do is keep performing and focus on each game. Chelsea, Arsenal and City are all excellent teams and there will be lots of twists and turns yet.
"It'll be a tough ask [to go to Chelsea] so we've got to give everything."
The Blues will have the chance to respond in their clash with Brighton on Wednesday while League Cup winners Arsenal, who are nine points behind in the title tussle, host Liverpool the same evening.
Shaw hits three for City
Manchester City are firmly among the candidates to be champions after Khadija Shaw’s hat-trick in a 3-1 comeback win over Tottenham saw the Citizens climb above Chelsea into second.
Norway international Celine Bizet had given Spurs a shock lead during a contest dominated by the hosts, with Shaw heading home the equaliser just before the break.
The Jamaican ace then coolly slotted home a penalty to put Gareth Taylor’s side in control, before bundling in a third of the game and 13th of the season to seal the victory.
Villa go five unbeaten
Aston Villa reduced the gap behind fourth-placed Arsenal to just three points after extending their unbeaten run to five games with a 2-0 win at Everton.
Kenza Dali gave Villa an early lead after her powerful effort from Rachel Daly’s cross deflected past goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan.
Everton defender Megan Finnigan’s own goal from Maz Pacheco’s cross 23 minutes from time ensured the Toffees slipped to a sixth defeat of the season.
Reading earn crucial win
Rachel Rowe fired a late winner as Reading beat West Ham 2-1 to bolster their survival hopes and climb from second-bottom up to ninth in the WSL standings.
Charlie Wellings had opened the scoring for the Royals in the second half with a fierce drive, before Hammers winger Viviane Asseyi turned in substitute Izzy Atkinson’s cross to level things up.
But with five minutes left on the clock, Royals striker Rowe’s superb strike from the edge of the box saw her side end a four-game winless run and extend the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to four points.
WSL Matchday 14 results
Manchester United 5-1 Leicester
Everton 0-2 Aston Villa
Manchester City 3-1 Tottenham
Reading 2-1 West Ham
Arsenal vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 7.15pm)
Chelsea vs Brighton (Wednesday, 7.30pm)