Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea: Katie Stengel scores two penalties as newly-promoted Liverpool overcome WSL champions Chelsea on opening weekend
- Newly-promoted Liverpool secured an impressive 2-1 victory against Chelsea
- Katie Stengel scored twice from the penalty spot to help her side prevail
- Fran Kirby had put Chelsea in the lead early on through a penalty of her own
A story of three penalties made for the biggest shock of the opening weekend of the Women’s Super League as reigning champions Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by newly promoted Liverpool.
The Reds were barely a minute into their return to the top flight when Gilly Flaherty kicked Guro Reiten instead of the ball and gifted Chelsea a penalty, which Fran Kirby converted.
But while previous Liverpool teams may have collapsed, Matt Beard’s side did the opposite. They worked tirelessly to prevent Chelsea from scoring a second before the Blues repaid the Reds’ earlier generosity with a spot-kick of their own. Millie Bright handled in the box and Katie Stengel stepped up to equalise.
Katie Stengel scored two penalties as newly-promoted Liverpool won against Chelsea
The Liverpool players celebrate following Stengel’s equaliser in the clash against Chelsea
Instead of looking to shut up shop, Liverpool went on the attack and were rewarded when Stengel won and scored a second penalty in the 87th minute. Matt Beard’s side then endured seven minutes of added time but held on to claim a huge victory and end Chelsea’s run of nine-straight league wins.
The Reds’ main aim this season is to stay in the WSL and on this evidence they will do that comfortably. ‘There shouldn’t be any hesitancy anymore, we should be in a position where we know we can compete at this level,’ Beard said. ‘We frustrated Chelsea today, one of the best teams in club football. We could have folded after going 1-0 down. There’s so many good things that have come out of today but the biggest thing for me is that the players have the belief and trust in what we’re asking them to do.’
After week one it is advantage Arsenal in the title race but Chelsea will not be overly concerned. Last season they were beaten on the opening day by the Gunners and spent the majority of the campaign as the chasers before finally overtaking their rivals. They should have had enough to beat Liverpool but were punished for not turning their possession into goals.
Fran Kirby had put Chelsea in the lead against Liverpool, also from the penalty spot
Liverpool Laws (3-4-3): Laws 6, Flaherty 6, Fahey 7, Matthews 6, Koivisto 6.5 (Roberts 72), Holland 6, Kearns 6 (Furness 72), Hines 6.5, Lawley 6.5 (Daniels 72) , Stengel 8 (Humphrey 90+5), Kiernan 6.5 (Campbell 57, 6.5)
Subs not used: Cumings, Kirby, Robe, Silcock
Booked: Holland, Campbell
Goals: Stengel 67, 87
Manager: Matt Beard 7
Chelsea (4-3-3): Musovic 6, Charles 5, Bright 6 (Perisset 70, 6), Buchanan 6, Eriksson 5, Cuthbert 6, Ingle 6 (Rytting Kaneryd 70, 6) Kirby 6.5, James 7 (England 85), Kerr 6, Reiten 6
Subs not used: Carter, Svitková, Mjelde, Čankovic, Berger
Goals: Kirby 3
Manager: Emma Hayes 6
Referee: Emily Heaslip 6
‘I didn’t think our execution in the final third was anywhere near good enough,’ Hayes said. ‘Our crossing was wayward, it was out of bounds, we didn’t trouble the keeper in the way that we have done. If I turned around and said who played well for us, I don’t think that would be a high number category.’
Hayes’ side sorely missed Pernille Harder, who dropped out of the starting XI with an injury in the warm-up. But Kirby’s early goal gave them the perfect start as she sent Rachael Laws the wrong way to open the scoring in the third minute.
Liverpool could have equalised shortly after but Emma Koivisto could only bundle the ball over the bar at the back-post.
A tight offside call then ruled out what would have been an early goal of the season contender from Chelsea forward Sam Kerr, the Australian hitting a first-time volley into the top corner before the assistant referee’s flag went up. Hayes was adamant it should have stood.
‘We scored a goal that was legitimately onside, I’ve seen it back, which is frustrating,’ Hayes said. I said it to the fourth [official] at the time. It is frustrating that someone as quick as Sam [Kerr] gets penalised because we don’t have VAR. I think had we gone 2-0 up it would have been a different game.’
Liverpool Women manager Matt Beard will be pleased with the performance of his team
Liverpool lost last season’s top scorer Leanne Kiernan to what looked like a bad ankle injury in the second half but her replacement Megan Campbell made an instant impact. Campbell has a reputation for her Rory Delap style throws and her first involvement was to launch the ball into the Chelsea box. It caused chaos as Nimah Charles miss-kicked her clearance and the ball was hit against Bright from close range. Stengel converted calmly into the bottom right corner to the delight of a record 3,006 home crowd.
Then came the third and decisive penalty. Stengel latched on to a loose ball and suddenly found herself through on goal. Kadeisha Buchanan slid in desperately and brought down the striker just inside the box. Once again the American converted, sending Musovic the wrong way for a second time.
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