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Brighton Women 1-4 Manchester City Women: Visitors cruise to 10th straight WSL win

Man City celebrate Lauren Hemp making it 0-1
Lauren Hemp's opener sent Manchester City on their way to a fifth successive away WSL win

Manchester City kept pace with Women's Super League leaders Chelsea with a routine victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at Broadfield Stadium.

Lauren Hemp and Mary Fowler scored in the first half to set City on their way to a 10th successive WSL win, before Khadija Shaw added her 17th goal of the season after the break and Laura Coombs made it 4-0.

City are second in the WSL, only trailing Chelsea on goal difference.

Former City player Lee Geum-min added a late consolation for Brighton, who remain eight points above the relegation place.

The visitors immediately assumed dominance of possession as Brighton sat deep, but had to be patient before finding the breakthrough on 27 minutes.

Jess Park had space in midfield to turn and thread a through ball for Hemp to chase and finish from the corner of the six-yard area.

Brighton keeper Sophie Baggaley should have done better, either in coming out to the through ball or in stopping Hemp's shot, which squeezed under her body and over the line.

The three points were all but secured five minutes before half-time, when a slick team move ended in Hemp's fine cross from the left being finished by the sliding Fowler in acres of space.

Hemp came close to her second and City's third early in the second half when she struck the post from the edge of the area, before Shaw did make it 3-0 by heading in Yui Hasegawa's deep cross at the far post.

The fourth came when Coombs coolly finished Fowler's cut-back from the edge of the area - although City could not find the six goals which would have moved them above Chelsea on goal difference.

Instead Brighton scored the game's final goal in stoppage time, Lee turning home a low cross from close range.

City respond after tricky week

This was a must-win game for Gareth Taylor's City after a difficult week.

Since last playing in the league, City were eliminated from the League Cup by Chelsea and the FA Cup on penalties at the hands of Tottenham, while the Blues dispatched Arsenal on Friday to take a three-point lead in the WSL.

City were expected to respond with a win here, but would have been given pause by memories of the reverse league fixture last November, when a late Lee winner earned a shock victory for Brighton.

There was no such risk of shock here as City, who had 35 shots without scoring in that defeat, were far more efficient.

That November defeat was the second in back-to-back league games for City. This win was their 10th in succession since that loss.

Only only once before has a team won 10 or more games straight in the same WSL campaign, with City themselves doing so in 2020-21.

It is a run which City must continue, emulate and exceed in order to deny Chelsea a fifth successive league title and ensure Taylor avoids a second trophy-less campaign in a row.

Tough day for Terland

Brighton will have hoped that this could have been a battle of the WSL top scorers, with Seagulls striker Elisabeth Terland third in the charts on 11 goals this season - now five behind City's Shaw.

However their need to sit deep under City pressure left Terland largely without service and unable to add to her tally.

It means Brighton have now won only one of their last 11 home games in the WSL, losing eight.

Crucially though, that victory came against Bristol City in January and with the Robins rooted to the foot of the WSL, Brighton are looking increasingly assured of safety this season.