Manchester City overcame the sending off of Georgia Stanway to claim a point against Manchester United in a pulsating Women’s Super League derby.
Substitute Ellen White poked in the equaliser late on, after Jess Park’s long-range stunner was tipped onto the bar, to peg back United who had scored two goals in three minutes to lead.
City were down to 10 players following Stanway’s straight red card for an ugly challenge on Leah Galton in the 35th minute.
And while Gareth Taylor’s side responded superbly to take the lead through Khadija Shaw’s header, United’s quickfire double meant City had to fight back to earn a much-needed draw.
It was a frantic second half in particular and one which encapsulates a topsy-turvy season for City, but some pressure on manager Taylor will have been relieved with this battling draw away from home.
In contrast, it felt like a missed opportunity for United and manager Marc Skinner, taking charge of his first derby, and they remain without a win over City in four meetings in the WSL.
Rollercoaster for Taylor and chance missed for Skinner
City, runners-up last season, came into this match off the back of a third successive league defeat – their longest losing run in the WSL.
Taylor had been forced to answer questions on his future, while he urged his players to “remain positive” before what would be a crucial derby.
He went through all the emotions on the touchline – arguing with the officials despite Stanway’s challenge meriting a red card, three minutes before celebrating summer signing Shaw’s header from an unmarked position in the box.
That 1-0 lead for City lasted 34 minutes but United, who carried far more of an attacking threat in the second half, dealt a double blow when substitute Lucy Staniforth – who may have been offside – flicked in Ella Toone’s cross, before Alessia Russo brilliantly rolled in a second from 12 yards.
The tide looked to have turned in United’s favour but City responded again.
Teenager Park, only on the pitch for three minutes, saw her strike stunningly fingertipped onto the underside of the crossbar by Mary Earps, but White was quickest to react, tapping in the loose ball with just over 10 minutes remaining.
City fans celebrated wildly at full-time – a sign of their struggles so far this season – while United fans were more subdued, perhaps sensing their best opportunity to get one over their biggest rivals had passed them by.