Pauline Bremer’s hat-trick ensured Manchester City’s smooth progress into the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup at the expense of Sheffield United, writes Chris Pratt.
The hosts fought valiantly throughout but the class of their Barclays FA WSL opponents told, and Laura Coombs also got on to the scoresheet to help seal the defending champions’ place in the next round.
The visitors were quick out of the traps. After only a few minutes Ellen White had her goalbound effort turned around the corner by home goalkeeper Becky Flaherty.
The game then turned into an attack versus defence training session with the visitors firmly on the front foot.
City broke the Blades’ stubborn resistance just before half-time when Keira Walsh played a sublime through ball for Bremer who side-footed coolly past Flaherty.
And United were pierced once more before the break. Janine Beckie - who had the freedom of the right wing - delivered a pinpoint cross for Bremer to poke home her second on the stretch.
After the break Flaherty saved well from Steph Houghton after the England captain - up for a corner - pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area.
But it was Walsh who was dictating the flow of the game in midfield and Flaherty saved well with her legs from Coombs after the 22-year-old had slid another one of her immaculate passes through.
The Blades showed admiral fighting spirit throughout the second period but rarely ventured into City’s half and 15 minutes before full-time the away pressure told again when Caroline Weir found Coombs in space 10 yards out who sent a curling finish into the far corner.
And Bremer bagged her hat-trick in the closing stages with a neat header as City looked ominous in pursuit of the trophy they won last year.
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