Man Utd 2-0 Reading: Player ratings as WSL season gets underway

04 September 2021 12:00

Manchester United got their Women's Super League campaign off to a perfect start with a comfortable 2-0 win over Reading at Leigh Sports Village.

The hosts took a good 20 minutes to settle but after gaining the upper hand, outclassed their opponents in Marc Skinner's first game in charge.

After upping their share of possession, United took the lead five minutes before the break when Kirsty Hanson latched on to Ella Toone's precise through ball to slide past Grace Moloney. The 23-year-old demonstrated great composure in front of goal, stroking the ball home with the outside of her left foot as Moloney came out to narrow the ankle.

United continued to assert their dominance in the second half, but could easily have been pegged back when Brooke Chaplen thundered a shot off the underside of the crossbar. Replays showed the ball had probably crossed the line, but with goal-line technology not in operation, United were able to get back in the driving seat and put the game beyond Reading.

Their second goal, and her first for the club, came from Ona Batlle, who after linking up with Toone, powered the ball home with her weaker right foot, rewarding initial good work from Leah Galton.

Reading were unable to trouble Mary Earps thereafter, as United opened their season in style. Here's how both sets of players rated on the night.

Manchester United player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Mary Earps (GK) - 6/10 - Untroubled throughout, instead focusing on keeping warm.

Hannah Blundell (RB) - 7/10 - Plenty of involvement going forward, primarily driving inside Kirsty Hanson. Recycled possession well.

Aoife Mannion (CB) - 6/10 - Not a particularly busy evening for Mannion, making her first start since her switch from neighbourhood rivals City.

Maria Thorisdottir (CB) - 6/10 - Had things under control throughout, playing calmly out from the back and showing all her experience.

Ona Batlle (LB) - 7/10 - Took her goal superbly, arching the ball into the top corner with precision. Not troubled too much defensively.

2. Midfielders

Katie Zelem (CM) - 7/10 - Showed her quality on the ball with a couple of excellent through balls. May feel she could have upped the tempo but grew into the game.

Vilde Boe Risa (CM) - 6/10 - A couple of neat turns away from trouble showed her awareness and calmness in possession.

Lucy Staniforth (CM) - 6/10 - Looked to get forward and link up with Toone, stretching Reading's midfield whenever she could. Booked.

3. Forwards

Kirsty Hanson (RW) - 8/10 - Took her goal smartly, first dropping deep to link up play before breaking in behind to slot home Toone's excellent ball first time. Worked exceptionally hard.

Ella Toone (ST) - 8/10 - Produced a fantastic weight of pass for Hanson's opener, before turning provider once more for Batlle. A class act playing in an unfamiliar role.

Leah Galton (LW) - 6/10 - Missed a decent opportunity early on after confusion in Reading's backline, but stretched the Royals' defence as the game wore on.

4. Subsititutes

Jackie Groenen (CM) - 6/10 - Looked classy on the ball and will clearly have a big role to play this season. Bent a late effort wide.

Martha Thomas (ST) - 6/10 - Replaced Toone with 25 minutes to go, playing the role of a more traditional striker. Always on the shoulder of the defenders.

Alessia Russo (CM) - N/A

Reading player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Grace Moloney (GK) - 6/10 - Couldn't do much to prevent United's goals, but was confident enough to play out from the back throughout.

Faye Bryson (RB) - 6/10 - Coped with the threat of Galton well, often forcing her opponent down the outside.

Deanna Cooper (CB) - 6/10 - Dragged out of position for the opening goal, and was troubled by Toone and Hanson's movement throughout. Did make a couple of crucial blocks.

Gemma Evans (CB) - 7/10 - Maintained Reading's defensive line under mounting pressure, although was a little shaky in possession once or twice.

Lily Woodham (LB) - 5/10 - United targeted attacking down the right, doubling up on Woodham to pull her out of position. Not the easiest night.

6. Midfielders

Rachel Rowe (CM) - 6/10 - Came up against an impressive United midfield trio, but did well on the whole. Struggled to advance play but was keen to break forward when possible.

Chloe Peplow (CM) - 6/10 - Crisp in possession but struggled to assert any drive and impetus into Reading's play.

Brooke Chaplen (CM) - 7/10 - Drifted into pockets of space nicely and looked a real threat between the lines. Thundered a shot off the crossbar, one that looked to have crossed the line when it bounced down.

7. Forwards

Natasha Harding (RW) - 5/10 - Began brightly as Reading saw plenty of the ball in the early exchanges. Faded badly as United assumed control.

Emma Harries (ST) - 6/10 - Wasn't able to offer much of a goal threat, especially when United began to dominate possession. Was more involved after Jeon's introduction.

Amalie Eikeland (LW) - 5/10 - Like Harries and Harding, Eikeland looked sharp early on but struggled to see much of the ball.

8. Substitutes

Ga-Eul Jeon (RW) - 6/10 - Helped liven Reading up a little after United had gone two goals ahead, almost connecting with a flying diving header.

Source: 90min