Liverpool end Manchester City’s title charge

Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City travelled to Prenton Park on Saturday, as they prepared to continue their title fight against a Liverpool side lingering in mid-table mediocrity. The Reds are now safe from the threat of relegation, but the remainder of their fixtures are dead rubber matches now as they’re unable to qualify for Europe.

LIV: Kirby; Hinds, Matthews, Roberts, Bonner, Koivisto; Holland, Nagano, Kearns; Dowie, Stengel

MCI: Roebuck; Morgan, Greenwood, Houghton, Casparij; Angeldahl, Hasegawa; Hemp, Coombs, Kelly; Shaw

City had the first chance of the game early on, as Faye Kirby’s clearance allowed Laura Coombs to attempt an audacious chip – but the ‘keeper was able to recover well and avoid conceding by tipping the strike over the crossbar.

The ‘keeper was put under pressure again moments later as Lauren Hemp was sent crashing to the ground following a desperate challenge. Despite appeals for a penalty, the referee waved play on – much to Liverpool’s relief.

Against the run of play though, it was Liverpool that took the lead in the 16th minute. A poor pass by Laura Coombs allowed Natasha Dowie to find the back of the net, with Ellie Roebuck left helpless between the sticks.

That goal seemed to give the hosts some sort of confidence, but their lead didn’t last long as Lauren Hemp levelled the scoreline twelve minutes later. Chloe Kelly’s cross into the area was brilliant, and Hemp was left unmarked to nod it past Faye Kirby.

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Khadija Shaw was given chance to pounce on the stroke of half-time, as the Jamaican forward was played through on goal – but her low driven strike was sent just wide of the post. It was set to be a nervy second half for City, who needed a win to keep their title hopes alive.

Liverpool were well and truly up for it, as they demonstrated in the 47th minute when Missy Bo Kearns picked out the far corner to restore Liverpool’s lead. Despite this game not really having much impact on their season, they were clearly hungry for the three points – and City would have their work cut out if they were to clinch a result.

They looked to bag a third almost immediately as Shanice van de Sanden wiggled away from the defence, before firing a low shot towards goal – Ellie Roebuck was able to push it away from danger on this occasion.

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The Reds really were desperate for a third goal, and it looked for a second as if Emma Koivisto had found it – but her cross from the right flank struck the far post before bouncing away from danger. City seemed to have fell asleep at half-time, and if you’d been listening to the commentary you’d have been wondering if they’d actually bothered coming back out.

Khadija Shaw looked to create City’s first real chance of the second half as she played in Laura Coombs – who hadn’t exactly had the best afternoon, having been at fault for Liverpool’s opener. This time, her shot was sent just wide of the post.

Shanice van de Sanden was through on goal once more as Liverpool looked to extend their advantage, but a perfectly timed challenge from Ellie Roebuck brought an end to the chance. Liverpool were awarded a great chance to score their third goal of the afternoon as Roebuck carried the ball outside of the penalty area minutes later, but the resulting free-kick only made it as far as City’s defensive wall.

City came close to bagging an equaliser as Lauren Hemp struck the underside of the crossbar in the final ten minutes, and the visitor thought for a moment that the ball had crossed the line. It hadn’t though, and Liverpool were able to clear the danger.

Despite nine minutes of injury time added on, Liverpool were able to hold on and take all three points. It’s a huge result for Matt Beard’s side – but the implications are much more significant to Manchester City, who now find themselves out of the title race. They’re still more than capable of securing Champions League football though, if they can win the remainder of their games.