Match ends, Manchester City Women 7, Aston Villa Women 0.
Manchester City scored six first-half goals as they thrashed Aston Villa to equal their biggest WSL winning margin.
The hosts were without several players and boss Gareth Taylor - who is isolating - but Lauren Hemp slid in Chloe Kelly's cross to put them ahead.
Jill Scott and Hemp headed in either side of Georgia Stanway's calm finish before a Natalie Haigh own goal and an Ellen White tap-in made it 6-0.
Villa improved in the second half but Kelly showed grit to add a seventh.
This was City's first game of the year after four players tested positive for Covid-19. BBC Sport was told the positive tests came as a result of four players taking a trip to Dubai with the club's permission.
The seven-goal margin equalled City's record Women's Super League victory - their 8-1 demolition of Bristol City in November - and moved them to within two points of third-placed Arsenal, who drew 1-1 at Reading.
For Villa it was their heaviest defeat of their debut season in the top flight, all the more disappointing as Gemma Davies' side had only lost 2-0 to the same opponents in the opening match of the campaign.
Assistant manager Alan Mahon led the home side in the absence of Taylor, while regular keeper Ellie Roebuck and influential midfielder Caroline Weir were among those missing - with American trio Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Abby Dahlkemper all on international duty.
Second-bottom Villa may have spotted an opportunity to pick up an unexpected result at the Academy Stadium but they conceded a regular flow of goals in the first 45 minutes as Hemp, Kelly and Lucy Bronze - who set up two goals before coming off at the break - showed a ruthless streak.
The visitors had a big chance to make it 1-1 but Nadine Hanssen dragged her shot just wide after England captain Steph Houghton had sloppily misplaced a pass, but otherwise it was attack versus defence.
Davies brought on World Cup-winning forward Mana Iwabuchi at the interval for her WSL debut as Villa moved to a more rigid five at the back, while City gave academy players Millie Davies and Alicia Window their professional debuts off the bench either side of Kelly's richly deserved goal, coming after she had hit the woodwork in each half.
Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp:
"I would've loved a hat-trick - I don't think I've ever got one before - [but] I like to contribute to the team as much as I can and if that means getting assists then I'm happy with that.
"We'd have liked to score more goals in the second half but I think it really puts us in a good position and also makes a statement to the league that we are capable of scoring lots of goals and we're definitely coming for the title."
City assistant manager Alan Mahon:
"I thought we were very clinical - all credit to the girls, they worked extremely hard and I'm really proud of the performance.
"We've always prided ourselves on bringing players through - there's another couple who have made their debuts today which is fantastic for us as a club and we'll keep pushing that."
Man City Women
- 20BronzeSubstituted forParkat 45'minutes
- 18WhiteSubstituted forWindowat 82'minutes
- 15HempSubstituted forDaviesat 75'minutes
Aston Villa Women
- 3AleSubstituted forMcLoughlinat 65'minutes
- 10PetzelbergerSubstituted forWestat 72'minutes
- 8ArthurSubstituted forN'Dowat 45'minutes
- 22HaylesSubstituted forHaywoodat 56'minutes
- 23HanssenSubstituted forIwabuchiat 45'minutes
- 19Abreu Sousa Silva
- Amy Fearns
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester City Women 7, Aston Villa Women 0.
Attempt missed. Sophie Haywood (Aston Villa Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Mana Iwabuchi.
Attempt missed. Stephanie Houghton (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.
Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Stine Larsen (Aston Villa Women).
Substitution, Manchester City Women. Alicia Window replaces Ellen White.
Attempt blocked. Laura Coombs (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Janine Beckie.
Attempt missed. Jill Scott (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Chloe Kelly.
Goal! Manchester City Women 7, Aston Villa Women 0. Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.
Foul by Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women).
Stine Larsen (Aston Villa Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Manchester City Women. Esme Morgan tries a through ball, but Chloe Kelly is caught offside.
Substitution, Manchester City Women. Millie Davies replaces Lauren Hemp.
Offside, Manchester City Women. Lauren Hemp tries a through ball, but Chloe Kelly is caught offside.
Substitution, Aston Villa Women. Amy West replaces Ramona Petzelberger because of an injury.
Esme Morgan (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Olivia McLoughlin (Aston Villa Women).
Attempt missed. Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Lauren Hemp.
Substitution, Aston Villa Women. Olivia McLoughlin replaces Asmita Ale.
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