Reading FC Women blitzed their way to three points in the opening group game of their Continental Cup campaign, defeating Durham 4-1 at Adams Park.
Captain Kirsty Pearce struck first before Fara Williams registered a hat-trick, with Beth Hepple providing the sole reply for the visitors from the penalty spot.
Elsewhere in the group, Manchester United defeated neighbours Liverpool in their televised fixture on Sunday – but it’s the Royals who sit top of the group after the first game. Everton are yet to play in the five-team pool.
Durham could have actually found the net within two minutes of the new season kicking off, but Grace Moloney kept out Zoe Ness’s effort after she was played through on goal.
And so it was Reading who went ahead after six minutes when Pearce picked up the pieces from a half-cleared free-kick, breaking the deadlock with a rifled finish.
The lead was doubled before the quarter-mark when Williams made sweet contact on a volley from just outside the area, burying in the bottom corner.
Her second, Reading’s third, came in the 24th minute as some good combination play with striker Lauren Bruton allowed Williams to get on the end of a cut-back for a close-range tap-in.
The Royals could have disappeared out of sight if Natasha Harding’s shot had been just inside the post, rather than cannoning away off it. But by the same token, they might have feared a comeback if Abi Cottam’s cross-shot had dropped in, rather than bouncing clear off the bar early in the second half.
Durham did indeed claw one back through Hepple, who converted her spot-kick when Ness was brought down in the box by Molly Bartrip.
But the three-goal lead was re-established just two minutes later with a delightful 25-yard effort by Williams, which struck the inside of the post before nestling in for her hat-trick.
Manager Kelly Chambers said: “In any game we want to make sure we start bright. We want to make sure we start with intensity, and that was important for us today. It was key for us to do that and make sure we went ahead in the game and carried on building from there.”
Hat-trick hero Williams added: “We set out to get three points in the first group game. We've got ourselves off to a good start and something to build on for next week.”