Manchester United opened their Women’s Super League season with a 4-0 victory over Reading in front of a record crowd at Leigh Sports Village.
Defender Maya Le Tissier scored twice on her debut, Katie Zelem converted a penalty and England’s Euro 2022 hero Alessia Russo dispatched a towering header.
All four goals came inside the opening 35 minutes as United showed their intent to improve on last season’s fourth-placed finish.
FT: @ManUtdWomen secure all three points in front of a record @lsvstadium crowd!#BarclaysWSL pic.twitter.com/1i8XNKS7a2
— Barclays Women's Super League (@BarclaysWSL) September 17, 2022
The feel-good factor in women’s football after England’s Euro 2022 success this summer was reflected by a record crowd of 7,217.
United’s previous highest attendance at Leigh Sports Village was 4,835 in 2018.
The hosts took control inside four minutes when Le Tissier met Zelem’s corner on the volley with her instep and the ball looped over Royals goalkeeper Grace Moloney.
Reading had a penalty claim turned down when Deanne Rose’s cross hit the outstretched arm of Millie Turner, but play was waved on with the United defender being only a few yards from her opponent.
Zelem doubled the lead after 14 minutes on the occasion of her 100th United appearance.
Russo was brought down by the onrushing Maloney after being released by Ella Toone, and the United skipper stepped up to strike a confident penalty.
The lively Toone was denied a third by Maloney before Reading lost Rose to what appeared to be nasty ankle injury midway through the first half.
Le Tissier’s dream debut continued when she was left unmarked 12 yards out after 25 minutes to head home another well-directed Zelem corner.
☝️ @AlessiaRusso7 is up and running in 2022/23!
How about that link-up between @OnaBatlle and @LuciaGarcia17, too?! 🇪🇸🔗#MUWomen || #WSL
— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) September 17, 2022
Reading forced a first save from Mary Earps as the England goalkeeper reacted smartly to push out Lauren Wade’s near post header.
The visitors conceded again when Russo rose superbly to head home Ona Batlle’s cross.
Lucia Garcia was denied a debut goal by the sprawling Maloney and United’s dominance was almost total after the break.
But Reading were spared further punishment as Russo headed wide and substitute Nikita Parris was twice foiled by brave defending.