Chelsea’s title defense got off to the worst possible start with a win over newly promoted Liverpool in their first Women’s Super League game of the season.
Liverpool striker Katie Stengel scored two penalties in the second half to send the record crowd at Prenton Park into a frenzy.
Fran Kirby gave Chelsea the lead after three minutes from the penalty spot before the hosts staged a stunning comeback.
Chelsea are aiming to win their fourth WSL title in a row, while two-time champions Liverpool have returned to the top flight after a two-year absence.
3,006 attended Prenton Park – the biggest ever for a Liverpool women’s game.
Chelsea looked lucky when Liverpool debutant Gilly Flaherty cut down Guro Reit in the box to give them a penalty after 60 seconds.
Kirby kept his composure and Chelsea began to dominate possession, although Liverpool carried a threat in attack.
Leanne Kiernan hit the post but was ruled offside in the first half, and new signing Emma Koivisto fired the rebound over the bar from yards out.
But Chelsea appeared in control as Sam Kerr won a number of headers in the final third and the Blues’ midfield movement caused problems.
Kerr had a goal disallowed for offside, half-volleying from the edge of the box before Scotland international Erin Cuthbert headed inches wide.
Emma Hayes’ side picked up where they left off after the break, but Millie Bright was severely penalized for a handball inside the box, before new Chelsea signing Kadeisha Buchanan scored Liverpool’s second penalty in 20 minutes.
It was the perfect way for Liverpool to return to the WSL under manager Matt Beard, who guided them to titles last time out in this league.
Stengel is making Chelsea stutter
Chelsea’s defeat came in one day Aston Villa beat Manchester City 4-3 At Villa Park, getting the WSL season off to an explosive start.
The visitors were full of creativity and movement, but lacked a ruthless side in the final third – affected by a late pullback from striker Pernille Harder, who suffered a slight limp in the warm-up.
Liverpool took time to settle into the game as Chelsea’s changing intensity and fluidity in midfield caused problems.
But as the game progressed and Beard rallied his players at half-time, Liverpool began to find confidence and played more in the second half.
Stengel, who made his home debut for Liverpool last season, made a stunning save to put both penalties in front of the Cup to make it an impressive WSL debut.
It was a sign of Liverpool’s ambitions this season as they look to cement a place in the league.
- 2selfishreplaced byRobertsin 72′minutes
- 7Kearnsreplaced byFurnessin 72′minutes
- 18the NetherlandsBooked in 18 minutes
- 12the Hindus
- 11Lawleyreplaced byDanielsin 72′minutes
- 24Stengelreplaced byHumphreyin 90+5′minutes
- 9in Kiernareplaced byCampbellin 57′minutesBooked in 90 minutes
- 4brightreplaced byHe would diein 69′minutes
- 5Englishreplaced byCankovicin 80′minutes
- 11routereplaced byKaneryd on horsebackin 70′minutes
- 10Jamesreplaced byEnglandin 85′minutes
- 15He would die
- 18the report
- 19Kaneryd on horseback
- 23more difficult
- Emily Heaslip
The match is over, Liverpool Women 2, Chelsea Women 1.
Second half ends, Liverpool Women 2, Chelsea Women 1.
An empty attempt. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) header from the right side of the box. Contributed by Ève Périsset.
An empty attempt. Bethany England (Chelsea Women) header from the center of the box to the right wing. Help from Magdalena Eriksson.
Substitute, Liverpool Women’s. Carla Humphrey replaces Katie Stengel.
Megan Campbell (Liverpool Women) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Jelena Cankovic (Chelsea Women).
Katie Stengel (Liverpool Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick.
Foul by Taylor Hinds (Liverpool Women).
Corner, Chelsea Women. Rhiannon Roberts taps.
Attempt blocked. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (Chelsea Women) from the left side of the box is blocked. Contributed by Ève Périsset.
Goal! Liverpool Women 2, Chelsea Women 1. Katie Stengel (Liverpool Women) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea Women) concedes a penalty for a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Liverpool Women. Katie Stengel commits a foul in the box.
Change, Chelsea Women. Bethany England replaces Lauren James.
The attempt has been saved. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) right footed shot misses the center of the goal. Contributed by Fran Kirby.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Taylor Hinds taps.
An empty attempt. Ceri Holland (Liverpool Women) right footed shot misses the target.
Change, Chelsea Women. Jelena Cankovic replaces Sophie Ingle.