RACHEL DALY praised Aston Villa’s big-game mentality as they dealt an early blow to Manchester City’s title hunt in a seven-goal thriller.
A classic brace from the WSL ace helped Carla Ward’s fighters to a 4-3 victory on a disappointing afternoon for City.
Villa fans who followed the Lionesses’ exploits at EURO and are used to seeing Daly at full-back got a glimpse of her deadly attacking skills.
And the former Houston Dash forward didn’t disappoint Ward’s fighters as they defeated giants City.
After the game, Daly said: “I would have liked to have scored the one goal but obviously two would have been nicer.
“Most importantly, we took the win on our home turf and defended the lead.
“It was a bit stressful when we lost 3-2 but then we came back in a big game with a big win and that’s a difficult thing.
“It took strength, character and resilience to come back from a fall after you’ve been in front.
“City are a fantastic team and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“But we wanted to be brave, take risks and make it difficult for them to play.”
Before the game, Villa had lost their four previous top-tier bouts, with City conceding 17 goals in total.
But this time, her team — which included summer signings Kenza Dali, Danielle Turner and loanees Kirsty Hanson and Anna Patten — ended that run.
On loan from Manchester United, Hanson proved a problem for her defense with her powerful attacks in the penalty area.
The Scottish ace’s seventh-minute counterattack led to a Mayumi Pacheco cross that found Daly and the striker headed the ball wide.
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The deadlock was finally broken when Alisha Lehmann, in one of her best shifts in the Villa shirt, defeated the hosts in the 22nd minutend Minute.
Later, Villa doubled their lead near the half-hour when Daly scored an excellent top-corner shot.
City looked to hit back when Chloe Kelly tested Hannah Hampton in the 34 from long-rangeth Minute.
And skipper Steph Houghton, returning to WSL action after a lengthy injury layoff, saw her shot saved shortly after.
Laura Coombs gave the visitors hope when she scored just before half-time after a mistake by goalkeeper Hannah Hampton.
In the second period, City took a dramatic 3-2 lead with two goals in two minutes.
First with Khadija Shaw equalization proceedings in the 53rd minuteapprox minute before Coombs struck again, driving a high shot home.
But Villa refused to give up when Dali held on to a sloppy pass from Houghton and leveled.
And Daly completed a dream debut and home win, sealing their brace with a tap-in after a blistering counterattack.
Ward, whose side play Leicester next, said: “Rachel played as a nine in Houston.
“I actually saw a bit of criticism with questions about whether she can play there? Absolutely she can.
“If she can do that against Manchester City, she can do that against any team in the league.”
We have to roll up our sleeves and do it again because it won’t happen if we don’t get three points this weekend
After the win, Ward added: “It’s only going to be a clear win if we can back it up.
“I said to the group at the end, I’ll give them the credit.
“But then I said very quickly, ‘Look, you can enjoy it tonight. But on Tuesday morning we have to roll up our sleeves and go again.’
It won’t work if we don’t get three points next week.
“We have to make sure it’s not just a big achievement. We have to keep going.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and start again because it won’t happen if we don’t get three points next weekend.”
City, in a state of upheaval with several new players this summer, face a tough test against champions Chelsea this Sunday
Club boss Gareth Taylor said: “We know we’re going to score goals as a team.
“It’s frustrating to come out of a game after three goals and not take anything with you.
“But this is football and it happens that you see results like this and it’s difficult to control at times, but we have to control those moments better.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6249845/rachel-daly-aston-villa-wsl/ Aston Villa 4 Manchester City 3: Daly scores a fatal brace in Dream Villa debut as Ward’s warriors beat City