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Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea: Katie Stengel scores two penalties as newly promoted Liverpool WSL champions beat Chelsea on opening weekend
- Newly promoted Liverpool took an impressive 2-1 win against Chelsea
- Katie Stengel scored twice from the penalty spot to help her side prevail
- Fran Kirby had given Chelsea the lead early on with a penalty from herself
A story of three penalties provided the biggest shock of the Women’s Super League opening weekend as reigning champions Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by newly promoted Liverpool.
The Reds were barely a minute into their return to the top when Gilly Flaherty kicked Guro Reiten instead of the ball and gave 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’ previous generosity with a dot of their own. Millie Bright took the penalty area and Katie Stengel stepped up to equalize.
Katie Stengel scored two penalties as newly promoted Liverpool beat Chelsea
Liverpool players celebrate after Stengel’s equalizer in the clash against Chelsea
Rather than keep quiet, Liverpool went on the attack and were rewarded when Stengel won and scored a second penalty in the 87th minute. Matt Beard’s side were then given seven minutes of extra time but held on to a huge win and ended Chelsea’s run of nine consecutive league wins.
The Reds’ main goal this season is to stay in the WSL and based on this evidence, they will do so comfortably. “There should be no hesitation 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 trailing 1-0. So many good things have come out of it today, but the most important thing for me is that the players have faith and confidence in what we ask of them.”
After week one, Arsenal have an advantage in the title race, but Chelsea won’t be too worried. Last season they were beaten by the Gunners on opening day and spent most of the campaign chasing them before finally overtaking their rivals. They should have had enough to beat Liverpool but were punished for not converting their possession into goals.
Fran Kirby had given Chelsea 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 (Cambell 57, 6.5)
Subs not used: Cumings, Kirby, Bathrobe, Silcock
Booked: Holland, Campbell
goals: Stem 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, ankovic, Berger
goals: Kirby 3
Manager: Emma Hayes 6
Referee: Emily Heaslip 6
“I didn’t think our execution in the last third was good enough,” Hayes said. “Our cross was quirky, it was out of bounds, we didn’t harass the keeper like we did. If I turned around and said who played well for us, I don’t think that would be a high number category.”
Hayes’ side missed Pernille Harder, who dropped out of the starting lineup with an injury during 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 equalized shortly afterwards, but Emma Koivisto was only able to bundle the ball over the bar near the back post.
A tight offside decision then ruled out what would have been an early goal by season contender Chelsea forward Sam Kerr, the Australian who first volleyed into the top corner before the assistant referee’s flag went up. Hayes was adamant it should have been standing.
“We scored a goal that was legitimate onside, I’ve seen it again, which is frustrating,” said Hayes. I told the fourth [official] at the time. It’s frustrating that someone as fast as Sam [Kerr] will be penalized because we don’t have VAR. I think if we had gone 2-0 it would have been a different game.’
Liverpool Women manager Matt Beard will be happy with his team’s performance
Liverpool lost top scorer Leanne Kiernan last season to what appeared to be a serious ankle injury in the second half, but her replacement Megan Campbell immediately impressed. Campbell is known for her Rory Delap style throws and her first involvement was to launch the ball into the Chelsea box. It caused chaos when Nimah Charles missed her distance and the ball was struck against Bright from close range. Stengel calmly landed in the bottom right corner to the delight of a record 3,006 home crowd.
Then came the third and decisive penalty. Stengel clung to a loose ball and was suddenly on target. Kadeisha Buchanan slid in desperately and shot the striker just inside the penalty area. Again the American converted and sent Musovic the wrong way for the second time.