Match report as all three goals at Prenton Park came from the penalty spot; Fran Kirby fired Chelsea ahead inside three minutes; Katie Stengel also scored twice from the spot in the second half as Liverpool claimed victory
Two second-half penalties from Katie Stengel earned Liverpool a shock 2-1 win over title holders Chelsea on their WSL return in front of a record-breaking crowd at Prenton Park.
The champions looked set for a routine evening when they were awarded the first penalty of the game inside two minutes. Gilly Flaherty’s clumsy challenge on Guro Reiten saw referee Emily Heaslip point to the spot. Euro 2022 winner Fran Kirby then converted on her first appearance for Chelsea since February.
But the Blues were guilty of not taking their chances, with Sam Kerr, in particular, cutting a frustrated figure up front, as manager Emma Hayes told Sky Sports after the game: “For us going forward, I didn’t think we could hit a barn door today.”
Liverpool stepped up their game in the second half in front of 3,006 fans – the highest ever attendance for a Liverpool Women’s match at Prenton Park.
Flaherty redeemed herself from the first half when she helped win Liverpool’s first penalty. Her flick-on from a long Megan Campbell throw hit Millie Bright on the arm and she was penalised for handball. Stengel – making her WSL debut – stepped up and easily dispatched past Zecira Musovic.
Stengel then won the second penalty, fouled by Chelsea debutant Kadeisha Buchanan inside the area. The American forward kept her composure once again and it proved to be the winner, with the Blues unable to find a reply to Liverpool’s spirited display.
Discussing her penalties, Stengel told Sky Sports: “I told myself, ‘Don’t miss, please don’t miss, all of these people will make fun of me if I miss.’ I decided I had to change it up and I got lucky I guess.
“When I step up for a penalty I have to decide before I take it which way I’m going, take a breath and if the goalkeeper moves early I can adjust but otherwise just stick with what I decided to do.”
There were jubilant scenes among the Reds at full-time, inflicting Chelsea’s first defeat in 2022. The WSL title holders have now lost four of their last five season openers.
While Liverpool did have the nightmare start on their WSL return, they rallied well and could have equalised mere minutes later. After some great play from Ceri Holland, her shot was stopped but largely fumbled by Musovic. Reds debutant Emma Koivisto was waiting, but fired her effort over from a few yards out.
Chelsea should have doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Kerr latched onto Kirby’s diagonal ball before lashing past Rachael Laws. But the offside flag was raised and the goal ruled out, despite replays showing she was on.
The Blues continued to see chances fall their way, despite some impressive play from Liverpool. Erin Cuthbert’s half-volley just dipped past the post with Kerr nodding another effort wide towards the end of the first half.
It was a quieter start to the second period, although Liverpool suffered another blow when Leanne Kiernan was injured just before the hour. After a tackle from Buchanan, she landed awkwardly and eventually hobbled off with the aid of two Liverpool physios. They helped her to keep any weight off of her right ankle as she was carried down the tunnel.
But a record-breaking Prenton Park ignited when Liverpool were awarded the second penalty of the game, which expertly dispatched by Stengel. However, Chelsea could have gone back ahead soon after a poor touch from Koivisto saw the ball at Reiten’s feet. But her eventual effort, having failed to round Flaherty, was a weak shot straight at Laws.
Liverpool began to increase the tempo and the now well-worn penalty spot was in action again late on as Stengel was fouled by Buchanan, with the striker stepping up again to ultimately win the game for her side.
Chelsea could have snatched a point late on as Kerr flicked the ball on for Bethany England, who was lurking in the six-yard box. However, Liverpool captain Niamh Fahey was there to nip in and see the ball away as the Reds completed a stunning victory.
Read Original Article at SkySports