Western United produced a five-star performance in the Australian capital with a 5-0 thumping of Canberra United in the Liberty A-League Women on Saturday afternoon.
Each of the five goals came in the first half and included first Liberty A-League goals for Danielle Steer and Melissa Taranto, while Hannah Keane struck a brace and Sydney Cummings added her third goal of the season.
The win was United’s biggest in the Liberty A-League season so far and ensured Mark Torcaso’s side strengthened its lead at the top of the table.
There were two major alterations to the line-up with first starts in Green and Black for captain Jaclyn Sawicki and for Angie Beard.
Steer also came into the starting XI as Torcaso made three changes to his team, while Natasha Dakic and Aleksandra Sinclair both returned to the bench.
Western United got straight on the front foot and might have taken the lead inside the first minute as Keane went on a superb run down the left-hand side, but her cutback narrowly evaded Steer in the six-yard box and Canberra were able to clear.
It didn’t take too much longer for United to take the lead, though, and Torcaso would have been delighted to see the opener come via two of his changes to the starting XI.
A nice spell of possession saw United work the ball out wide to Beard and the No.23 sized up her defender before standing up a lovely cross towards the back post which Steer met with a powerful header into the back of the net.
Steer was in the thick of the action and turned provider just eight minutes later with a beautiful assist as she chested the ball down into the path of Taranto who controlled and tucked a composed finish into the bottom left corner.
Canberra worked themselves into the game after United’s early double blow but the home side were unable to penetrate the Green and Black’s defence.
United’s speed in behind continued to be a threat but it was something of a gift that brought about the third goal as an errant pass presented the ball to Keane who lifted a finish over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net.
The visitors were well and truly in the mood for goals and Keane wasn’t going to be denied as she sought to extend her lead in the golden boot.
Taranto had a brilliant first-half and added to her goal with a beautiful threaded pass to Keane, who outpaced and outmuscled her defender before slotting a finish through the legs of the goalkeeper for her second of the day.
There was time to add one more before the half-time whistle as Tyla Jay Vlajnic’s deep cross was just cleared off the line by Canberra, but Cummings was on hand to blast home from close range to cap off an incredible opening period.
United made two changes at the break as Kahli Johnson and Emma Robers both entered the fray looking to make an impression and help add further goals to the score board.
Keane was eying a first Liberty A-League hat-trick and had two early sights at goal, on both occasions weaving in and out of trouble and shooting on her left foot.
Vlajnic could have claimed the fifth goal and had a golden chance to add the sixth early in the first half when the ball fell to her with an open goal, but her shot came from a tight angle and flew into the side netting.
In hot conditions and with a healthy lead, United was largely comfortable with maintaining possession and managing the tempo of the game in the second half, focusing on holding on to a first clean sheet away from home.
Hillary Beall was able to ensure her goal remained impenetrable and while there were a couple of half chances for United to add to the lead, there was to be no further goalmouth action as the Green and Black cruised to a dominant win.