Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Sunday to go top of the Women’s Super League, but a straight red card for England international Ella Toone may yet dent the title hopes of the Red Devils as she faces a three-match ban.
With the international break looming, United tops the table on 32 points, one ahead of champion Chelsea which has a game in hand.
Toone’s sending-off for an altercation with Spurs midfielder Eveliina Summanen in the 80th minute will see her miss three games, including a cup game against Durham and WSL games against bottom side Leicester City at home and Chelsea away.
After a first half lacking in decent goal-scoring chances, Manchester United upped the tempo in the second and began forcing saves from Tinja-Riika Korpela in the Spurs goal, with Toone also hitting the far post with a cross-shot.
Leah Galton finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute, out-muscling a defender to win a ball from the right into the box and rifling home from close range.
Bethany England wasted little time bringing Spurs level, latching on to a quick free kick and tearing towards the United goal before curling a brilliant shot past Mary Earps.
But her joy at scoring a fourth goal in five games proved to be short-lived.
The ball was in the Spurs net again just 14 seconds after the restart, Molly Bartrip netting an own goal as she tried to deal with another ball into the box from the right, this time from Lucia Garcia.
The visitors looked set to coast to victory until Toone’s red card threw Spurs a lifeline. But despite a late surge, the home side was unable to fashion an equaliser as United held on to win.
On Saturday, Manchester City beat Arsenal 2-1 to climb above it in the table into third spot, three points behind Manchester United and two behind Chelsea.
At the other end of the table, Leicester City remains bottom despite a much-needed 1-0 win over Liverpool that moves it up to six points, one behind Reading, while a 6-2 thumping by Aston Villa leaves Brighton & Hove Albion 10th on eight points, two ahead of Leicester.