Rachel Daly scored twice on her debut as Aston Villa made a stunning start to the new Women’s Super League season with a 4-3 win over Manchester City.
Daly, employed as a full-back during the Lionesses’ victorious European Championship campaign, was in clinical form up front as she inspired Villa to claim their first top-flight points against City.
The visitors looked to have ridden the storm when they fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 at the start of the second half, only for Villa to rally with Daly poking home the winner 14 minutes from time.
Gareth Taylor’s side struggled in their first match since the world-record departure of Keira Walsh to Barcelona, and Daly played her part in a 22nd-minute opener when she dispossessed Laia Aleixandri and let in Alisha Lehmann to drive on and fire low past Ellie Roebuck.
Villa doubled their lead just past the half-hour mark when Daly curled home a brilliant shot on the turn after the visitors failed to clear a corner, but City grabbed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Hannah Hampton allowed a Laura Coombs shot to slip through her grasp.
The visitors looked like making Villa pay after grabbing two goals in 90 seconds at the start of the second half, with Khadija Shaw heading the leveller before Coombs scored her second with a crisp finish from Chloe Kelly’s right-wing cross.
But three minutes later Villa were back level when Kenza Dali capitalised on a sloppy ball out from Steph Houghton and fired past Roebuck with the help of a heavy deflection off Alex Greenwood.
Roebuck was at fault for the winner when she spilled a Kirsty Hanson cross and let Daly in to claim the simplest of winners.
Spence scores at both ends as Spurs win at Leicester
Stunning goals from Ashleigh Neville and Drew Spence saw Tottenham start their campaign with a well-deserved 2-1 win at Leicester.
Neville opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a dipping, swerving effort from almost 40 yards, with Spence doubling the lead with a brilliant low drive in first-half stoppage time.
Spence’s own goal just before the hour mark gave Leicester hope of earning something from the game, but the home side rarely threatened to find an equaliser at the King Power Stadium.
Tottenham suffered an early blow when Rosella Ayane was forced off with an injury after just 15 minutes, with Leicester forging the first real opening after good work by Carrie Jones, only for Jemma Purfield to curl her shot over the bar.
The game burst into life in spectacular fashion thanks to Neville’s opening goal, the 29-year-old collecting the ball just inside the centre circle and advancing unchallenged before sending an unstoppable shot over a backpedalling Kirstie Levell.
Levell had to be alert to keep out a low shot from Jessica Naz on 39 minutes, with captain Shelina Zadorsky’s effort from the resulting corner deflected over the bar.
But Spurs gained the reward their dominance deserved with almost the last kick of the half as debutant Spence rifled a 25-yard drive beyond Levell into the bottom corner.
Spence handed Leicester a way back into the contest on 58 minutes when she inadvertently turned Purfield’s corner into her own net, but it was the visitors who came closest to another goal when Ellie Brazil volleyed straight at Levell.
Evans header gives West Ham win over Everton
Lisa Evans ensured West Ham got off to a winning start in the WSL with the only goal of the game as they overcame Everton 1-0.
Chances were at a premium at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on Sunday afternoon but Evans headed home on the stroke of half-time after Everton had only half-cleared a corner.
Everton forward Katja Snoeijs had a couple of opportunities after the interval but was denied by Mackenzie Arnold as the Hammers held on in Paul Konchesky’s first competitive match in charge of the club.
The former England full-back made 12 signings over the summer and handed debuts to defenders Kirsty Smith and Risa Shimizu, midfielder Jess Ziu and forward pair Honoka Hayashi and Viviane Asseyi.
The hosts started brightly but it was Lucy Graham who had the first real threat as the Toffees captain tested Arnold, while at the other end Evans was thwarted from close range by Courtney Brosnan.
Hayashi watched her effort from distance fly over the crossbar but just as it seemed the sides would go in at the break all level, Evans capitalised after a scramble in the Everton box.
Brosnan could only punch the ball to the edge of the area, where Ziu sent a looping header back towards goal before Evans applied the finishing touch in the six-yard area.
Everton saw plenty of the ball after the interval as they pushed for an equaliser, with Snoeijs pressing Arnold into action twice, but the Hammers goalkeeper kept out both shots.
In fact the only time the Australian came close to conceding was when Shimizu flicked past her towards the conclusion but West Ham were able to avert trouble as they comfortably clung on.
Everton therefore started their season with a loss under new manager Brian Sorensen, stretching their winless run in the WSL to eight matches after a forgettable end to the 2021-22 campaign.