Penalties were the order of the day as Liverpool Women marked their return to the Women’s Super League in style to beat last season’s champions, Chelsea.
Liverpool Women 2-1 Chelsea Women
Women’s Super League (1), Prenton Park
September 18, 2022
Kirby 03′ (pen)
Stengel 67′ (pen)
Stengel 87′ (pen)
Back in the top flight after winning the Championship last season, Matt Beard’s LFC Women walked out at Prenton Park in front of a record crowd for a women’s game at the stadium, with 3,006 in attendance.
Despite going on to get three points, the evening began in the worst way possible when the Reds conceded a penalty just 60 seconds in.
Defender Gilly Flaherty went to clear the ball, however, unbeknownst to her, Guro Reiten had appeared from behind and got herself between Flaherty and the ball then went to ground as she felt the contact.
Fran Kirby had no problem converting the penalty, calmly rolling the ball to Rachael Laws’ left as the keeper dived the other way.
The early setback didn’t harm Liverpool’s spirits though and soon after, Blues keeper Zecira Musovic spilt in the box but Melissa Lawley was just unable to keep her down her follow-up effort.
From then until the break, Chelsea had all the ball but didn’t pose Liverpool much danger as Beard’s side held a narrow shape and kept Chelsea out of their defensive third for the most part.
Half time: Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea
After the break, Liverpool looked more confident.
Shortly after coming on in the 57th minute, Megan Campbell made an impact sending a long throw into the area that was flicked on by Flaherty only to hit the outstretched arm of Chelsea‘s Millie Bright. Penalty number two of the match.
Katie Stengel then opened her account for the season by converting in a similar fashion to Kirby’s first-half spot-kick.
Three of Chelsea‘s summer signings were all brought on by Emma Hayes in an attempt to salvage a winner for the side who’ve dominated the WSL in recent years, winning five of the last six titles.
But, in the end, the winning goal came from the home team thanks to another penalty, taken and earnt by American forward Stengel, who intercepted a loose pass and, willed on by the roar of the crowd, made her way into the box before being brought down by Buchanan.
The only negative of the day came when last year’s player of the season, Leanne Kiernan, went off injured in the second half, unable to put weight on her right leg following a sliding challenge from Kadeisha Buchanan.
Liverpool have stronger squad depth than last season though and are better-placed to deal with the injury.
Just the two Niamhs, Fahey and Charles were on the pitch for Liverpool the last time these two met in February 2020, when Chelsea narrowly defeated The Reds in the FA Cup Fifth Round.
One of them, Fahey is Liverpool’s captain. The other, Charles, who was born on the Wirral, lined up for the opposition having signed for the Londoners the summer after the cup game.
It’s a sign of just how much has changed since relegation two years ago.
TIA Player of the Match: Katie Stengel
Liverpool: Laws, Koivisto (Roberts, 71), Flaherty, Fahey, Matthews, Hinds, Kearns (Furness, 71), Holland, Lawley (Daniels, 71), Kiernan (Campbell, 57), Stengel (Humphrey, 90+5).
Subs not used: Cumings, Kirby, Robe, Silcock.
Next Match: Everton (home (Anfield)), Sunday, 25 September, 6:45pm