Manchester United Women’s chances of progressing out of the Conti-cup group stages are in jeopardy already as they failed to beat championship side Durham in their first game of the competition.
The Reds drew 2-2, with the hosts coming from behind twice in what was a feisty game, full of controversy. United eventually won the penalty shoot-out meaning they take the bonus point but United would have hoped to travel back with three points, not two.
Only the winner of the group is guaranteed to progress through and with Leicester, City and Everton, all WSL sides, still to come, United have not made it easy for themselves by dropping points tonight.
The game started off well for the visitors, who had a number of chances in the opening fifteen minutes.
Ivana Fuso who started for the first time tonight had a great game. She burst forward in the eighth minute and set up a shot for Lessi Russo who fired straight at Durham’s keeper.
The breakthrough came in the 35th minute, once again it was Fuso causing problems for the visitors as she teamed up with academy star Carrie Jones. A lovely cutback from the latter was slotted home by Fuso.
Durham played dirty, making questionable tackles and pulling on shirts that seemed to go unnoticed and certainly unpunished by referee Melissa Burgin.
It was the hosts that had the better team talk at half time as they came out fighting and equalised in the 50th minute.
After a number of changes from both sides, it was Ella Toone with a rocket of a strike from outside the box that restored the lead for United.
However the story wasn’t over and just over ten minutes later, Durham equalised once again.
A number of chances followed for United in the closing stages including what appeared to be a sitter for Russo, but they weren’t clinical enough and the game ended 2-2.
The two sides faced penalties, with United going first.
It was goal scorer Tooney who took the first spot kick and there was not a chance she was going to fluff her lines. Robson also converted for Durham.
Tonight’s captain, Mannion was up next followed by Hepple for Durham who both scored. After three it was still all square.
Boe Risa sent the keeper the wrong way for United’s fourth spot kick whilst Durham’s Silicki chipped it wide.
All Russo had to do was score her penalty for United to boost their chances of progression and she didn’t disappoint.
It was a hard-fought game with plenty for United to work on and think about over the international break. The positives came from Ivana Fuso and Carrie Jones performances in particular.