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Women's Super League: Manchester City's ambitions of domination get off to a defeat as Liverpool claim 1-0 victory

The match replicated City's debut after a close-season signing spree but England striker Natasha Dowie gave Liverpool a successful start to their title defence

Reigning WSL champions Liverpool Ladies launched their title defence with a 1-0 win over ambitious newcomers Manchester City Women.

England striker Natasha Dowie, who finished as top scorer in the league last season, made the breakthrough on the 70-minute mark, running onto a long pass from Lucy Bronze and firing out of the reach of City goalkeeper Andie Worrall.

The game, played on a challenging surface at Liverpool's Widnes home, saw City make their debut in the English top flight following a bold close-season signing spree.

The visitors included England captain Steph Houghton at the heart of their defence, with international colleagues Jill Scott and Toni Duggan in central midfield and striking roles respectively, after their recent moves.

Houghton, Scott and Duggan have each been signed on full-time professional deals, the first English players on such terms, but City could not avoid defeat in their opener.

Duggan went close to a late equaliser but after a mazy run from the England striker, signed from Everton, her shot was well saved by Liverpool's American goalkeeper Libby Stout.