Teenage girl Lauren James scored when Manchester United beat West Ham on a historic day when Old Trafford first hosted a Super League game for women.
19-year-old James rose to shoot Maria Thorisdottir’s header home from a corner and make it 1-0 shortly after the break.
US striker Christen Press struck in a second after slipping through Jackie Groenen six minutes later.
United, who normally play at Leigh Sports Village, are in third place in the table.
James, one of England’s most promising young players, was excellent in the first half and was rewarded for her good performance when she became the first woman to score at Old Trafford just five minutes after the restart.
She has now scored the first goal for Manchester United women in the championship, WSL, FA Cup and now at Old Trafford.
James showed dexterity, intelligence and speed and came closer again in the second half when her curling shot flew just inches past the right post.
Before their start, the hosts struggled to break West Ham, who remained at the bottom of the table and without a win in seven WSL games.
The press had a chance to score, hissing balls twice across the six-yard area avoiding James and midfielder Ella Toone.
The sloppiness of possession proved almost costly for the hosts too, as West Ham’s Martha Thomas, Kenza Dali and Dagny Brynjarsdottir had every chance of getting behind the central defense in the first half after receiving the ball.
The Hammers had to pay not to take their chances as James and Press had the clinical edge Manchester United longed for before Laura Vetterlein’s second yellow card made the visitors’ lives even harder in the final stages.
The result leaves Casey Stony’s side six points ahead of Arsenal, who will face rivals Spurs from north London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium later on Saturday (15:30 GMT).
West Ham is one point below Bristol City, where it faces relegation colleague Birmingham City on Sunday (16:00 GMT).
“You wouldn’t even dream it!” – what they said
Manchester United manager Casey Stoney: “We weren’t good in the first half – that was probably the worst I’ve seen in a long, long time. I think there was definitely a case for the occasion. That is now over. You know how it is . ” .
“The players know when they are not good enough. I said [at half-time] If you want to qualify for Champions League football, you have to play by a Champions League standard, we weren’t.
“When we started playing together in the second half, we were better.”
Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone: “As a Manchester United fan, it was a dream come true to play on such an amazing course. It was a special occasion and I’m glad we went out there and got the three points.”
West Ham boss Olli Harder plays at Old Trafford: “The players all really enjoyed the opportunity to be here. It was a decent advertisement for women’s football.
“For someone who grew up on the end of the world and only saw Old Trafford on TV, it isn’t even true to come here and train because you wouldn’t even dream it! It’s not real when you live in New Zealand.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for me personally, but especially for the girls, to play in one of the most historic stadiums in the world.”
Man utd women
- 4thGymnastBooked at 61 minutes
- 17thmayorBooked at 67 minutesReplaced byHarrisat the 74 ‘protocol
- 10ZelemReplaced byLaddat the 65 ‘protocolBooked at 90 minutes
- 7thTo a
- 37StaniforthReplaced byHansonat the 66 ‘protocol
- 16JamesReplaced byHorseat the 84 ‘protocol
- 24PressReplaced bySigsworthat the 84 ‘protocolBooked at 90 minutes
West Ham women
- 26thCousinBooked at 77 minutes
- 2Reddish kvammeReplaced byBarkersat the 89 ‘protocol
- 32BrynjarsdóttirReplaced byCissokoat the 84 ‘protocol
- 21daliReplaced byMustafaat the 88 ‘protocol
- 25thvan Egmond
- 9ThomasReplaced byPachecoat the 78 ‘protocol
- 41The tone
End of game, Manchester United Women 2, West Ham United Women 0.
The second half ends with Manchester United Women 2, West Ham United Women 0.
Missed attempt. Mayumi Pacheco’s header from the center of the box is narrow but misses to the left. Assisted by Kate Longhurst after a set piece.
Hayley Ladd (Manchester United Women) receives a yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Hayley Ladd (Manchester United Women).
Gilly Flaherty (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Maria Thorisdottir (Manchester United Women).
Katerina Svitková (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Missed attempt. Kirsty Hanson (Manchester United Women) left footed shot from the center of the box misses to the left. Prepared by Ella Toone.
Offside, Manchester United Women. Jane Ross attempts a pass, but Jackie Groenen is caught offside.
Missed attempt. Ella Toone (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the left. Prepared by Jessica Sigsworth.
Jessica Sigsworth (Manchester United Women) receives a yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Jessica Sigsworth (Manchester United Women).
Mayumi Pacheco (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Missed attempt. Maisy Barker’s right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Gilly Flaherty following a corner.
Corner, West Ham United Women. The corner was caused by Maria Thorisdottir.
Foul by Amy Turner (Manchester United Women).
Mustafa (West Ham United Women) doesn’t get a free kick in the attacking half either.
Missed attempt. Millie Turner (Manchester United Women) header from the center of the box misses the goal on the right. Assisted by Ella Toone with a cross following a corner.
Substitution, West Ham United Women. Maisy Barker is replacing Cecilie Redisch Kvamme.