Man City vs Man United: First ever professional women’s Manchester derby to take place this weekend

5 Sep

The first ever professional women’s Manchester derby will take place on Saturday.

Man City face newly-promoted United at the Etihad Stadium on the opening day of the 2019/20 Women’s Super League season.

Steph Houghton is set to lead Manchester City out against Manchester United on Saturday
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The two clubs are expected to play in front of 20,000-plus supporters.

City and England captain Steph Houghton is relishing the prospect of the historic occasion.

She said: “It’s exciting. I think everybody has been dying for a Manchester derby in the Women’s Super League.

“Obviously last year when Manchester United said they were going to be in the Championship and they were fighting for promotion, as players and staff we got excited by the prospect of having them in our league.

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“And now to have it as our first game – I think it is going to do this game the world of good.

“I think we need to push rivalries, we need to push derby days and there is no bigger than this one coming on Saturday.”

United won the Women’s Championship in their first campaign since forming last year and will look to maintain their place in the top-flight this season.

When asked about the intensity of the newly-formed rivalry, Houghton said: “I feel as though it is already there to be honest, that’s how I personally feel.

“All the talk has been about a Man City-Man United women’s derby and we have finally got that.

“I think it’s important that we start history right on Saturday in terms of we want to make Manchester blue.”

England 1-2 United States: ‘Disrespectful’ Lindsey Horan’s celebration interrupts Steph Houghton’s post-match interview with talkSPORT

3 Jul

Steph Houghton accused Lindsey Horan of being ‘disrespectful’ for interrupting her talkSPORT interview in the wake of England’s Women’s World Cup semi-final defeat by the United States.

The US booked their place in their third successive World Cup final on Tuesday evening by beating the Lionessess 2-1 in Lyon, with Alex Morgan scoring the winning goal after Ellen White had earlier cancelled out Christen Press’ opener.

Ellen White fired England level before Alex Morgan’s winner – with Houghton going on to later miss a penalty
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Houghton, who captained Phil Neville’s side to the last four, missed a late penalty which could have taken the match to extra-time, and said after full-time she let her team down by wasting a chance to equalise from the spot.

“I was confident,” the Manchester City defender said. “The goalkeeper coach told us I was on them today, and I felt confident enough to take it.

“I’ve been taking them in training every single day, and I believed in my technique.

“But today I just got it wrong, and let my team down.

“But at the same time I can be proud of my team and how we fought and tried to get back into the game.”

Houghton also discussed England’s progress to reach the semi-finals, but her chat with talkSPORT was cut short when Lindsey Horan – who set up Morgan’s winning goal – interrupted the interview with a loud cheer in the background.

Houghton accepted the responsibility of taking the late penalty, which could have sent the game to extra-time
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However, her weak attempt was easily saved by Alyssa Naeher in the United States goal
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Horan is understood to have been celebrating with Alyssa Naeher, the United States goalkeeper, in the mixed zone – something Houghton found disrespectful.

“Well there was no need for that… ridiculous,” she continued. “It’s disrespectful man.”

Houghton then requested to end the interview with talkSPORT’s Faye Carruthers, asking: “Can I go now please?”

You can listen to Steph Houghton’s full interview with talkSPORT, including Horan’s interrruption, above

England vs USA: The key Women’s World Cup semi-finals battles, including Lucy Bronze vs Megan Rapinoe and Steph Houghton vs Alex Morgan

2 Jul

England are one step away from the Women’s World Cup final but must first get past a strong United States side in their final four clash.

Phil Neville’s side made it to the semi-final in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win over Norway while the USA’s path to victory proved much tougher as they overcame France 2-1 in Paris.

Lucy Bronze has been one of the stars at this World Cup
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The American side have been making headlines both on and off the pitch and are one of the favourites to retain their World Cup title.

England have been going from strength to strength and, although slight underdogs, have what it takes to progress on Tuesday night, with commentary live on talkSPORT.

Here at talkSPORT.com we have taken a look at the key battles set to take place during the match in Lyon.

Lucy Bronze vs Megan Rapinoe

Bronze hit the headlines with her sensational strike in the quarter-final, in what was arguably her best performance of the tournament so far.

The right-back has been superb for England so far and is one of the best players in the world, something her boss Neville agrees with.

She will have her hands full with USA’s quarter-final hero Rapinoe lining-up against her.

Megan Rapinoe scored both of goals for the USA in their quarter-final victory
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The winger scored twice in the France match and was their best player during the match.

Rapinoe has also been hitting the headlines off the pitch with her comments about not wanting to go to the White House if they won the World Cup, which predictably provoked a response from Donald Trump.

Steph Houghton vs Alex Morgan

Houghton has been imperious at the back for the Lionesses this tournament and has led by example as captain.

Without her last ditch tackles and goal line clearances, the 3-0 win against Norway would not have been so comfortable.

Alex Morgan has already scored five goals at the World Cup
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She will have Alex Morgan to contend with on Tuesday night, who is currently leading the golden boot race.

Morgan has five goals and three assists with Rapinoe and England’s Ellen White currently tying on five as well.

The USWNT striker may have got all five of her goals in their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand and been quiet since but she will be a constant threat.

Jill Scott vs Julie Ertz

The veteran England midfielder has had a fine World Cup thanks to her tireless running, important tackles, key passes – and the opening goal in the quarter-final.

Her battle with the USA’s midfield will be an interesting one, particularly with Julie Ertz in there.

Jill Scott has been a key player for England at the Women’s World Cup
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Ertz was named in the All-Star team from the 2015 World Cup but as a central defender. She has since moved further up the pitch and into centre midfield but has been as equally successful.

The 27-year-old was nominated as the US Female Player of the Year in 2018.

Nikita Parris vs Crystal Dunn

It will be interesting to see how Parris responds after her second penalty miss of the tournament.

The winger has shown glimpses of the talent she possesses but we are yet to see her reach her full potential at this World Cup.

Parris will have a good test against USA left wing-back Crystal Dunn who likes to go forward.

Nikita Parris scored for England against Scotland in the World Cup opener
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Dunn has 24 goals in 90 games for her country but may have more defensive duties on her mind when dealing with the England player

England Women team news: Predicted line-up for Lionesses’ side for Women’s World Cup quarter-final against Norway

27 Jun

England Women have the chance to make their third straight semi-final at a major tournament when they take on Norway at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday night – a match you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT.

The Lionesses reached the semis of Euro 2017 and at the 2015 World Cup and they’re just one win away from grabbing a place in the last four in France.

England have won all four matches at the 2019 Women’s World Cup
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Their latest triumph saw them get a 3-0 victory in a controversial last-16 match against Cameroon.

However, England’s form has been patchy and Norway will represent their first big test of the current finals, according to former Lioness Claire Rafferty.

To make preparations more difficult for Phil Neville’s side, the manager has had a few concerns regarding the fitness of some of his players.

Captain Steph Houghton may not be available for the Norway game because she sustained an ankle injury during the closing stages of the Cameroon game following a nasty challenge from Alexandra Takounda.

Houghton was left in a heap following the aggressive tackle
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Meanwhile, the England camp have also been hit by a sickness virus with Houghton’s partner at centre-back Millie Bright confined to her hotel room. Bright did not train with her team-mates on Wednesday night.

So a mini-injury crisis greets England before arguably their biggest game since Euro 2017 but maybe this is where Neville’s rotation policy at the tournament will be hugely beneficial.

talkSPORT.com has predicted how England will line up against Norway which you can see below.

Is this how England will line up against Norway?
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Neville does like to alternate between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 but because Norway are a threat on the counter-attack, England may go for the latter option which is slightly more conservative.

Karen Bardsley is England’s No.1 so is a shoo-in to start this game, while right-back Lucy Bronze has started every World Cup game for England so far.

Alex Greenwood, who scored England’s third against Cameroon will probably play left-back as she’s started three of England’s four matches at the tournament.

As for the centre-back slots, it’s likely to be too soon to see Bright play but given Houghton trained on Wednesday, that could be enough to see the captain start.

Abbie McManus, who started England’s second group match against Argentina may get the nod to partner Houghton.

Manchester City midfielder Keira Walsh has started every single match so will surely play this one and Neville could opt to play her club team-mate Jill Scott alongside her in a defensive midfield role to combat the counter-attacking ability of the Norwegians.

However, Neville will want to maintain his attacking threat as well so Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris will play on the wings.

Duggan was a late arrival to the England fold at the World Cup but will be a huge threat to Norway
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The gifted Fran Kirby could play in the No.10 role and that could make for an interesting battle as she’s likely to come up against Chelsea team-mates Maria Thorisdottir and Maren Mjelde, who are Norway’s centre-back pairing.

And striker Ellen White, who has scored four goals in three games at these finals is in red hot form so has to start up front.

England 3-0 Cameroon: Lionesses into the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup after controversial clash in Valenciennes

23 Jun

England have reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup after beating Cameroon 3-0 in their last-16 match in Valenciennes.

On a sweltering hot day, tempers were frayed and emotions ran high after a series of contentious calls marred the action on the pitch.

Phil Neville’s side will now face Norway following a remarkable, ill-tempered clash in the north of France.

Alex Greenwood celebrates with the England squad after her strike in Valenciennes
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The Lionesses went ahead in the 14th minute at the Stade du Hainaut when Cameroon were deemed guilty of a back pass and, from the resulting indirect free-kick, Toni Duggan teed up a strike by England captain Steph Houghton.

Extraordinary scenes then followed as Cameroon made their displeasure known about two VAR decisions that went against them.

After Ellen White’s finish in first-half stoppage time was ruled out for offside and the decision was subsequently overturned, Cameroon’s players remonstrated at length with the officials and there appeared some doubt over whether they would resume playing.

Their anger then increased shortly after the interval when Ajara Nchout fired the ball into England’s net and a VAR review saw that effort chalked off for offside. The game was held up once more as Cameroon made further angry protests, with Nchout in tears.

The Lionesses took the lead through Steph Houghton’s indirect free-kick
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Ajara Nchout of Cameroon reacts after her goal is disallowed
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England survived some scares soon after, then extended their advantage in the 59th minute through Alex Greenwood’s finish, before referee Qin Liang made another VAR check following a Ysis Sonkeng challenge on Fran Kirby, with no penalty being given.

Having come through a test that also saw them receive some rough treatment and Duggan being spat on, England will now face Norway on Thursday in Le Havre for a place in the semi-finals.

Women’s World Cup 2019: Predicted England team to face Scotland in France

9 Jun

England’s World Cup campaign gets underway against Scotland on Sunday, LIVE on talkSPORT.

The Lionesses came third in the 2015 tournament losing to Japan in the semi-final before beating Germany in a play-off.

Phil Neville could guide England Women to a first ever World Cup triumph
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Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville will be hoping to add more silverware to England’s cabinet after guiding his side to a SheBelieves Cup triumph in March.

England and Scotland last met at Euro 2017 when the Lionesses thrashed the Scots 6-0 in Holland.

But England midfielder Scott Jill admits they were facing an inexperienced Scotland side two years ago.

She said: “For us, it’s one of the biggest games of our lives.

“I think what’s important is we don’t get lost in the emotion of the occasion and we just stay logical, earn the right to play.

“I haven’t even thought about that [6-0 win], which probably shows how I think this game’s going to be completely different.

“At that time, Scotland had some fantastic players but they probably didn’t have the experience that they’ve got now.

“I definitely think it will be a much tighter affair than the one before. We need to do our best to find time to [block] out all that noise that’s going to be outside.”

England No.1 Carly Telford is expected to start in goal with a back-four of Lucy Bronze, captain Steph Houghton, Leah Williamson, Alex Greenwood in front of her.

Team news

In pre-tournament friendlies, Neville used a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation against Denmark and New Zealand, respectively.

He could turn to experience for the Scotland clash with 136-capped Jill Scott anchoring the midfield with energetic duo Jade Moore and Keira Walsh playing slightly further ahead.

Barcelona’s Toni Duggan and Lyon’s Nikita Parris could operate the wings with Euro 2017 top scorer Jodie Taylor leading the line.

England have never lost a game that Taylor, 33, has scored in.

Predicted England team

Could this be England’s starting XI against Scotland?
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England Women 0-1 New Zealand Women: Lionesses suffer shock defeat on the eve of the World Cup

1 Jun

England Women were given a World Cup wake-up call as their final warm-up match ended in a shock 1-0 defeat to New Zealand in Brighton.

Phil Neville’s Lionesses fly to France on Tuesday with ambitions of bringing home the trophy for the first time in history.

But the team ranked third in the world were left with plenty to ponder after failing to capitalise on prolonged spells of pressure and being sucker-punched by Sarah Gregorius’ strike early in the second period.

Sarah Gregorius celebrates her strike in the second half
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Head coach Neville said on Friday that he had trust in each member of his 23-player squad.

The former Manchester United defender has now given all of them ample opportunity to impress and made 10 changes from last weekend’s 2-0 win over Denmark for the final fixture of the ‘Road to France Series’.

Forward Nikita Parris, who opened the scoring against the Danes, was the only player retained, while captain Steph Houghton, Champions League-winning Lyon defender Lucy Bronze and Barcelona forward Toni Duggan were among those brought in.

The next time the Lionesses take to the field will be on June 9 for the Group D opener against neighbours Scotland in Nice.

The New Zealand Women’s team celebrate at the Amex
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Steph Houghton of England Women and Rosie White of New Zealand Women battle for the ball
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At a sun-drenched Amex Stadium, which has been selected as a venue for Euro 2021, the hosts began brighter and dominated for most of the afternoon.

Jodie Taylor was denied a ninth-minute penalty after replays suggested she may have been brought down by Erin Nayler as she tried to get a shot away following poor distribution from the New Zealand goalkeeper.

Reign FC forward Taylor was causing plenty of problems for the visitors’ shaky rearguard.

After racing on to Alex Greenwood’s forward pass, she rounded Nayler but had no team-mate available to cut the ball back to, before seizing on a risky back pass from Katie Bowen only to see her dinked attempt smothered.

Phil Neville knows he has work to do with his squad
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New Zealand, who begin their own World Cup campaign on June 11 against the Netherlands in Le Havre, have a further warm-up game, on Tuesday against Wales in Cardiff.

They were struggling to cope with the one-way traffic. However, with defender Houghton down in the area having been struck by the ball, Lionesses keeper Carly Telford was forced to tip over from Betsy Hassett just before the interval.

The away side then stunned England by opening the scoring against the run of play five minutes after the restart.

Telford failed to hold a drive from Rosie White and forward Gregorius was on hand to tap home the rebound from close range.

The 22-degree heat provided far from ideal footballing conditions, yet it is likely to be considerably warmer during the Lionesses’ opener at the Allianz Riviera.

England almost an immediate response but Lucy Staniforth’s free-kick from wide on the left whistled narrowly over.

With things not going to plan, Neville turned to the old guard, introducing experienced duo Jill Scott and Karen Carney from the bench.

After winger Carney tested Nayler at the end of a flowing team move, the pair – who are set to feature in their fourth World Cups – combined for midfielder Scott to nod narrowly wide.

In front of a crowd of 20,076, Tom Sermanni’s New Zealand appeared to tire in the closing stages.

But they resolutely dug in for an unlikely win which dents England’s momentum at a crucial stage and leaves Neville with a lot to think about ahead of the big kick-off.

Steph Houghton: Manchester City star hints she could miss World Cup if she needs to care for husband, who has motor neurone disease

8 Apr

Steph Houghton has suggested she would sacrifice her England World Cup spot to care for her husband, who has motor neurone disease.

Houghton is captain of the England Lionesses and is currently preparing for this summer’s tournament in France.

Steph Houghton is captain of England

The 30-year-old is part Phil Neville’s squad, who are one of the favourites to win the World Cup.

The Manchester City star has spoken for the first time about how her and her husband’s lives have changed since his diagnosis.

Stephen Darby, who played for Liverpool, Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers, had to retire in September at the age of 29.

Stephen Darby was forced to retire in September

Speaking to the Daily Mail about her World Cup hopes, Houghton said: “I’m here because I feel I’m right to be here and it’s driven by Stephen.

“He wants me to go. He says, ‘Get out of the house’.

“Because it happened so quickly, (my future with England) would all depend on how Stephen is. He’s my priority. If anything were to change in the near future, my job is to be the best wife that I can be and to look after him. But at the moment, everything is great. He’s as good as ever.”

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The World Cup runs from June 5 to July 6, across their anniversary – and she admits her priorities have changed in the last six months.

She said: “It’s obviously been a really, really tough year on a personal level, but I can be honest and say I’m sitting here in England colours and I am really focused on England. Of course Stephen’s my no.1 priority and he always will be.

“My focus is the World Cup now and fingers crossed it never ever gets to the moment where I have to step away.”

Houghton was preparing for England’s friendly with Spain on Tuesday but has withdrawn from the squad with a groin injury.