Alanna Kennedy stars after late derby call for Man City

Matildas centurion Alanna Kennedy was surprised to be handed a late stand-in role for Manchester City but made the best of her opportunity to then star in their crucial 3-1 derby triumph over Manchester United in the Women's Super League.

The Australian international, who had only seen nine minutes of action for City in 2024 after recovering from an Achilles problem, was on the bench again on Saturday only to be given a call-up to the starting XI after an injury in the warm-up to her Spanish teammate Laia Aleixandri.

The 29-year-old Kennedy, starting her first match for City since November, then marshalled their defence expertly while also assisting on one of their goals in a victory that puts them three points clear at the top of the WSL.

Fowler wins for City
Mary Fowler (L), here battling with Hannah Blundell, also featured in Man City's win. (AP PHOTO)

Kennedy's international teammate Mary Fowler also featured in the victory which was sealed for City by the first two league goals for Jess Park and a landmark strike from the WSL's leading scorer Khadija Shaw.

Shaw became the club's record women's goalscorer in front of a crowd of 40,086 at the Etihad Stadium as City took their 11th league win in a row to put pressure on champions Chelsea, who can go back top by defeating West Ham on Sunday.

Park proved the game's stand-out, the young midfielder notching up two neat finishes late in the first half, even though the first should not have been allowed because Shaw was offside in the build-up.

The second came courtesy of Kennedy's header from Yui Hasegawa's inviting cross which looped perfectly for Park to volley home from close range.

Seconds after the break, Park set up Shaw superbly to score her milestone 68th goal in just 81 matches for the club, taking her past Georgia Stanway's mark.

A Kerstin Casparij own goal in the 74th minute did give a smidgen of hope to United but this was a deflating afternoon for the visitors, who are now 15 points behind their neighbours in fourth place.