Knowing that a win would send them to the top of the Barclay’s Women’s Super League standings after Leicester City’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United earlier this afternoon, Liverpool manager Matt Beard made wholesale changes from their midweek Conti Cup defeat by the Foxes. Most notably, Norwegian international Sophie Román Haug finally made her debut, following a club-record fee summer move from AS Roma.
On the other hand, Everton undoubtedly had pre-match expectations ahead of this afternoon’s Merseyside Derby. Not only would they seek to take advantage of a prime opportunity to claim local bragging rights, but they’d also look to open their three-point account for the season – with confidence high after cruising to a 3-0 win at Anfield in this fixture last term.
LIV: Laws, Clark, Bonner, Fisk, Koivisto, Nagano, Hinds, Höbinger; Holland, Haug; Kearns.
EVE: Brosnan, Björn, Finnigan, Hope; Veje, Payne, Vanhaevermaet, Galli; Bennison; Bissell, Sørensen
Protecting an unblemished record in the 2023/24 Barclays Women’s Super League campaign, Liverpool flew out of the blocks at Anfield, almost immediately taking the lead from kick-off, as Missy Bo Kearns fired home Taylor Hinds’ dangerous delivery into the six-yard box. However, the Kop’s celebrations were prematurely muted by the third official, as Kearns was controversially adjudged to have strayed marginally offside – despite replays showing she looked onside, prior to firing home past Courtney Brosnan.
Hell-bent on seizing an early advantage in the contest, the Reds again sought the opening goal of the contest as Ceri Holland saw her fearsomely-struck strike sensationally redirected onto the crossbar by an acrobatic Brosnan.
Undefeated in their last four head-to-head encounters, Everton were made to be patient in their endeavours of testing the returning Rachael Laws – but should have been ahead against the heavily one-sided run of play in the 20th minute. However, at the telling moment, in front of an unexposed goal, Emma Bissell inexplicably failed to release the ball out from under her feet.
Nonetheless, the visitors would not have to wait long to break the deadlock, as shortly after the half-hour mark, Toffees’ captain Megan Finnigan clinically made her way up from the back to authoritatively head home Katrine Veje’s floated training ground-esque corner beyond Laws.Embed from Getty Images
Beginning the second half in a more aggressive fashion, Everton should have doubled their advantage in the 54th minute but as the majority of Anfield expected the back of the net to bulge, Justine Vanhaevermaet could only turn away in dismay as her close-range effort flew agonisingly wide of Laws’ right-hand post.
In response to still somewhat unluckily being behind, Liverpool manager Matt Beard expectantly responded by introducing no less than four fresh faces into the game shortly after the hour mark. Frustratingly, none of Liverpool’s alterations could make the telling difference on the overall outcome of the contest, as at the opposite end of the pitch, only the reflexes of Laws and the underside of the crossbar prevented Katja Snoeijs from getting her name onto the scoresheet on her return from injury.
A hard-fought victory registers Everton’s first win of the season as the Toffees move up to eighth position. Meanwhile, Liverpool miss out on the opportunity to conclude matchday three situated at the summit of the Barclays Women’s Super League standings.