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  • By football reporter

Lionesses stay top of the Championship after defeating Sunderland 3-1

London City Lionesses 3 Sunderland 1

By Football Reporter

Three first-half goals helped London City Lionesses remain top of the Barclays Women’s Championship with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland.

Sarah Ewens, Atlanta Primus and Lily Agg all struck before the break to bring the visitors’ three-match winning run to an end and keep the hosts’ promotion hopes on course.

It was a cagey start to the match, as both sides failed to get a foothold in the opening stages, Sunderland’s Emily Scarr registered the first effort on target but her strike was straight at Shae Yanez.

Lionesses soon took control of the encounter, Hayley Nolan firing just wide with a curling strike before Ewens headed over from a Lois Heuchan cross.

Ewens then found the net just before the half hour, volleying in off the bar from a cross.

Nikita Runnacles' side doubled their lead in quick succession, as Primus tapped home from close range following a scramble in the box.

And it was soon three before the break, as Agg fired home from the edge of the box after Sunderland failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.

The hosts remained dominant and continued where they left off after the restart, but were unable to add to their tally.

With 20 minutes remaining, Melanie Reay's side pulled a goal back against the run of play when Abbey Joice played an inch-perfect pass to find Elizabeta Ejupi, who smashed her effort past Yanez.

London City Lionesses' head coach Nikita Runnacles said: "In the first half, we were phenomenal. The way we've played and pushed Sunderland on their backfoot from a defensive point of view and when we had possession. The number of opportunities we've created within that time was fantastic. I was a little bit disappointed to concede in the way we did. We knew we had to put up a fight before we played them and that's what exactly the girls did. They made sure in the first ten minutes that they went in and scrap through every ball - make sure we won first and second balls. All those little wins work in our favour and then we were going to play how we want to play.

"It's down to the ruthlessness you need in the team and to be able to do that twice on the bounce, it's only credit to the players and the way they conducted themselves over the past two weeks - got their rewards. The players want to compete for this league more than anyone, so it's making my life easier in leading the team which reflects on our performance today, especially in the first half."

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