Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United: Victory sees Matt Beard’s side go ahead of rivals in league table

Liverpool waved goodbye to Prenton Park in style today with a deserved victory over bitter rivals Manchester United – made especially sweet by the fact that the Merseysiders have now replaced them in 4th in the table.

Chances fell to both sides in the first half, but after the sole goal from Jenna Clark the visitors never truly looked like recovering – and neither side could convert in the second, meaning Matt Beard’s side record a first-ever league double over United.

As it happened

The match began in a lively atmosphere and both keepers were quickly called into action, Teagan Micah by Leah Galton and Mary Earps by a long-range attempt from captain Taylor Hinds. Ceri Holland and Sophie Romàn Haug’s physicality was a clear worry for United, with multiple powerful efforts from distance.

United had their chances to snatch a lead, particularly through Lucia Garcia’s pace down the right and in a goalmouth scramble from a Katie Zelem corner – but Liverpool were establishing dominance, disrupting United’s play in the middle of the park and almost making them pay several times. Emma Koivisto squandered the best opening yet before the 20-minute mark, heading into the post from only feet away – and immediately knocking the rebound a whisker wide.

The atmosphere also became increasingly fractious, with Liverpool’s support unhappy with several robust challenges from their opponent. Grace Fisk donned a giant head bandage and Ceri Holland also received treatment – but it was a collision between Koivisto and Gemma Evans that drew particular outrage. That furore would eventually lead not to the card for Evans that Liverpool asked for, but instead a red card for their manager Matt Beard.

Far from rattling the home side, they continued to build momentum. Mia Enderby almost found an opener when she beat two United defenders to gear up for a shot on goal, but Katie Zelem slid in from behind to clear the ball out for a corner. Höbinger took a crack at Earps from far outside the box – her effort didn’t lack power but the Lionesses keeper again had the time to collect fairly comfortably.

When the breakthrough came, it was no surprise. Höbionger’s inswinging ball from a short corner was let through far too easily by the United defence and helped home with a nudge from Jenna Clark. It was the only goal of the first half, at the end of which Matt Beard’s side were roared off by the home support – and the referee Melissa Burgin heartily booed. Both sides entered the break knowing that without a change, Liverpool would sit fourth and United fifth at the close of play.

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That was the end of the scoring; Marc Skinner amde a raft of changes in the second half as he attempted to turn the game around but to no avail. Every United attack was met with a block of red shirts and Liverpool remained threatening, looking far more likely to extend their lead than United looked to even the scores. Lucia Garcia and Hayley Ladd were both booked for frustrated challenges, as was Liverpool’s Fuka Nagano late in the game.

Liverpool’s attackers had a raft of chances to extend their lead, hitting the roof and sides of the goal several times. Höbinger, Roman Haug, and Enderby all had their opportunities – the best for top scorer Roman Haug in stoppage time. The Norwegian found herself one-on-one with Mary Earps, but agonisingly struck the side netting – much to the disappointment of the home fans behind the goal on the Kop. United’s best chance was also in stoppage time when a freekick into the box by Zelem found the head of Melvine Malard – but Micah made an excellent save to deny her.

The Frenchwoman did look threatening after coming on, and was narrowly caught offside in the dying moments of the game as she unleashed a shot on goal – but she was unable to find a breakthrough for United. Liverpool’s last hurrah at Prenton Park finished in storybook fashion, with a deserved victory over the United side who, until this season, they had never beaten in the league.

The lineups

LIV: Micah, Koivisto, Fisk, Bonner, Clark, Hinds, Nagano, Holland, Hobinger, Enderby, Roman Haug

MUN: Earps, Blundell, Turner Le Tissier, Evans, Zelem, Naalsund, Toone, Garcia, Galton, Parris