Last-minute Baunach clinches thrilling West Ham win over Manchester United
West Ham United 3-2 Manchester United
Barclays FA Women's Super League
Katharina Baunach scored a stunning 90th-minute free-kick as West Ham United mounted a remarkable late comeback against Manchester United.
After twice into behind only to draw level moments later, Baunach stepped up and curled a brilliant finish from inside the 'D', over the wall and into the bottom corner as the game ticked into injury time.
Laura Vetterlein and another Baunach free-kick at opposite ends of the match had earlier cancelled out opportunistic strikes by Kirsty Hanson and Lauren James, before the German left-back's glorious winner capped a memorable victory.
The Irons had welcomed their leading league goalscorer Martha Thomas back into the starting line-up after the Scotland striker missed their last four matches through injury. Dutch forward Esmee de Graaf was also named in her first West Ham matchday squad since last December, joining the substitutes on the way back from recovering from an ACL injury.
A frantic opening ten minutes saw the visitors make a blistering start to the match, taking the lead after just 44 seconds when Kirsty Hanson nodded in an inviting cross from the left delivered by former Hammers forward Jane Ross.
West Ham were on level terms just two minutes later. After Baunach’s corner caused confusion in the Red Devils’ area, the ball fell out to Kenza Dali, whose clip towards the back post was nodded in by the twisting Laura Vetterlein – an excellent first goal in Claret and Blue for the summer signing.
That remarkable pace didn’t let up, as away side goalkeeper Mary Earps almost found out to her cost, Kiernan getting a touch to her clearance – but unfortunately not enough contact to send it goalbound – as the Hammers sprinted to close her down.
The chances continued to flow inside the first ten minutes, Brosnan doing brilliantly to tip Galton’s rising strike around the post before moments later diverting a close-range header onto the crossbar.
Brosnan’s reflexes were tested again moments later when Manchester United captain Zelem went for the spectacular with a swerving shot from 30 yards, but the American goalkeeper did well to adjust her feet and claim.
The next quarter of an hour saw chances at a comparative premium, both sides’ midfields working hard to disrupt any spells of possession the opposition might have enjoyed.
With ten minutes remaining until half-time, however, Redisch Kvamme’s graft on the right flank dug the ball out for Lehmann, whose lay-off for Dali prompted a deflected shot from the edge of the area that had Earps scrambling across her goal to tip it wide.
As in the first half, the visitors enjoyed the first clear chance of the second 45. A clever reverse pass down the left released Galton, whose fizzing ball across goal bounced awkwardly off the shin of Jackie Groenen in front of goal, flying wide.
The Hammers grew into the half and came close to taking the lead on the hour mark, Thomas narrowly failing to connect with Redisch Kvamme’s threatening cross seconds before producing an inspired turn inside the area which only just ran away from her.
Both sides began to struggle for rhythm as the game headed towards its final quarter, Brosnan in particular doing well to claim several teasing balls into the area while judging well the visitors’ efforts from range, forced upon them by a well-marshalled Hammers backline.
What seemed at the time like a killer blow came with ten minutes remaining. Manchester United’s young substitute Lauren James, who had already shown some neat touches in and around the area, burst into space down the right before drilling the ball low across Brosnan.
But the Hammers demonstrated their powers of recovery once more when, two minutes later, Katharina Baunach’s sweetly-stuck in-swinging free-kick went over a sea of onrushing bodies to nestle into the far corner.
Seven minutes later, a late burst forward from Kiernan led to the Hammers forward being fouled on the edge of the area, sparking an off-the-ball incident which saw her collect a second yellow card.
But it made no difference as up stepped Baunach to produce a moment of magic which delivered the Hammers' first set of three points in the league in four matches, sparking jubilant scenes at Rush Green Stadium.
West Ham United: Brosnan; Redisch Kvamme, Flaherty (c), Hendrix, Vetterlein, Baunach, Dali (Cho 90+4), Longhurst (Middag 90+5), Lehmann (Leon 49), Kiernan, Thomas
Subs: Moorhouse, Galabadaraachchi, De Graaf
Goals: Vetterlein 3, Baunach 83, 90
Booked: Longhurst, Kiernan, Hendrix, Thomas
Sent off: Kiernan
Manchester United: Earps, A. Turner, McManus, M. Turner, Harris, Ladd, Zelem (c), Groenen (Toone 71), Hanson (Sigsworth 82), Ross (James 59), Galton
Subs: Mikalsen, Okvist, Arnot, Smith
Goals: Hanson 1, James 80
Booked: James, Zelem, Toone