Football returned for Chelsea Women today with their opening Women’s Super League match against Liverpool. We were meant to start it all against West Ham at Stamford Bridge but circumstances well beyond our control made it so the game was postponed to an undeterminated date.
Travelling to the Merseyside to face the recently promoted team, we could have anticipated some sort of resistence that would make the first minutes of our WSL title defence harder. Instead what we got was a penalty only two minutes after kickoff, expertedly taken and converted by the one and only, Fran Kirby.
While goalkeeper Zecira Musovic nearly gifted Liverpool the tying goal only a minute after the opener, Chelsea were largely in control of the match. Rustiness did not help us as the girls were not as sharp as we are used to. But we were not in major danger either aside from an offside play by Katie Stangel.
Second half was almost a perfect repeat of the first, barring an early Chelsea goal. The Blues continued to dominate even when lacking sharpness and not creating many chances as a result. Meanwhile Liverpool did their best to contain us, helped by striker Sam Kerr constantly being (wrongly) marked for offside and our general lack of aim when shooting at goal.
And so, the Blues paid the price of not being up to the task at hand this early in the season. In a rare attacking foray from Liverpool, a shot hit Millie Bright’s hand in the box after a deflection by Gilly Flaherty. Stangel successfully scored from the spot to give the hosts the tying goal 66 minutes into the game.
The goal gave Liverpool a morale boost, and they started playing a bit more menacingly in turn. Chelsea also turned up the ante with manager Emma Hayes handing debuts to Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Eve Perisset, and Jelena Cankovic to turn it back in our favour.
But it just wasn’t enough. Stangel got another chance to score from the spot and she did, thus handing the Blues a loss to make our title defence much harder than it was supposed to.
- Pernille Harder was supposed to start today but felt discomfort during warm-ups. Sophie Ingle started in midfield in her place.
- Subs are Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Guro Reiten, Eve Perisset for Millie Bright, Jelena Cankovic for Sophie Ingle, and Beth England for Lauren James.
- Kirby plays, Kirby scores. That’s the life!
- Lauren James looks really good on the right wing.
- With better luck, or simply VAR, Sam Kerr could have had two goals today. Alas.
- Next up: Manchester City at Kingsmeadow for the league.