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Liverpool 1-4 Manchester City: Visitors move three points clear at top of Women's Super League

Khadija Shaw heads in her second goal for Manchester City against Liverpool in the WSL
Khadija Shaw leads the race for the WSL Golden Boot with 19 goals this season [Reuters]

Manchester City ruthlessly dismantled Liverpool to move three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League.

Lauren Hemp opened the scoring with the first of three goals in eight first-half minutes as City seized control.

Jess Park jinked past two defenders before finishing coolly for the second and WSL top-scorer Khadija Shaw made it three with a sizzling 25-yard strike.

A Shaw header early in the second half sealed the win but Khiara Keating's own goal gave the hosts a late consolation.

Liverpool had started the game brightly at Prenton Park, keeping City penned inside their own half but without creating any chances of note.

While Matt Beard's Reds lacked a cutting edge around the box, the clinical visitors scored from their first attack - Hemp reacting quickest to find the bottom corner after Park's deflected shot had been pushed out by Liverpool goalkeeper Rachael Laws.

Park doubled the lead when she collected Mary Fowler's pass, beat a pair of defenders on the edge of the box and fired a strike in off the far post.

Two minutes later, with Liverpool reeling, Shaw delivered the decisive blow. The Jamaica striker flicked the ball past Gemma Bonner and then sent a thunderous effort into the top corner from distance.

Leanne Kiernan had the chance to get one back for the hosts soon after but shot wide with only Keating to beat.

Any glimmering hopes Liverpool had of mounting a comeback were ended six minutes after the break when Shaw rose highest at the back post to head in Fowler's corner for her 19th league goal of the campaign.

While City remained in control, the home side still looked to attack with numbers when given the chance and their efforts were rewarded when Taylor Hinds, making her return from injury off the bench, saw a fierce 30-yard shot hit the upright before going in off the unfortunate Keating's back.

Victory ensures Gareth Taylor's side go into the international break top of the table as second-placed Chelsea are not in WSL action this weekend, while Liverpool stay fourth.

City maintain title push

With Chelsea facing Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday, this was a chance for City to steal a march in the WSL title race - and they took it with both hands.

Despite a slow start, there was an assuredness about the visitors as they managed to keep Liverpool at arm's length in the early exchanges.

Even up against a Liverpool side enjoying an encouraging season, once City settled the difference in quality was clear to see and their combination of incisive passing and dead-eye finishing proved too much.

"At times some phenomenal play from us. I thought we were excellent in how we managed the game," Taylor told Sky Sports.

"It is a really good result... this is a tough place to come. We silenced the crowd."

Liverpool manager Beard said: "We have had a mad 10 minutes after we conceded the first goal and then you have a mountain to climb against teams like Manchester City. The game is over at 3-0."

The run-in is already well under way and with four games remaining, City are in a fantastic position to end Chelsea's stranglehold on the WSL title.

"We know what we have to do between now and the end of the season and we know what others can do," Taylor added.

There is still much work to be done but, in this form, City will back themselves to do their part. They can only hope that that is enough.