PFA Player of the Year Ji So-Yun scored twice and England’s Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby bagged a goal each as Liverpool Ladies suffered a heavy home league defeat to Chelsea Ladies in front of a 1,000-plus crowd in Widnes.
The Reds lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Natasha Dowie partnered up front bu Line Smorsgard with Katie Zelem playing just behind them. Lucy Staniforth and Katrin Omarsdottir completed the midfield line-up with Ingrid Ryland at left-wing-back and Rosie White on the right.
Libby Stout started in goal behind the back three of Martha Harris, Satara Murray and Gemma Bonner.
The formation gave Liverpool a lot of width in contrast to a narrow Chelsea set-up with Ryland and White both consistently finding themselves with a lot of space on the wings.
Ryland in particular impressed out wide and she had the Reds’ first real chance of the game after Staniforth’s ball picked her out on the wing. The Norwegian beat Hannah Blundell to unleash a strike from outside the box but hit the woodwork.
With the effort coming midway through the first half, this saw the beginning of a short period of time wherein Liverpool were on top and had Chelsea pinned around their own box.
Just moments after Ryland hit the post, Liverpool had Chelsea rattled again; White winning a corner after seeing her cross blocked and sending the set piece towards Bonner whose header crashed off the frame of the goal.
Chelsea had temporarily been reduced to 10 after Niamh Fahey was forced to leave to pitch for stitches after a clash with Dowie, but Liverpool were unable to capitalise on the advantage and were left cursing the crossbar as Chelsea took the lead.
Aluko had initially been forced away by Bonner but Davison on the opposite wing had better luck, crossing to So-Yun who controlled the ball brilliantly at the edge of the six-yard box and finished past Stout to make it 1-0.
Stout then denied Kirby from going through on goal after a well-timed run eluded the defence, the No.1 making a crucial sliding challenge outside of her area.
This was followed by a wonderful solo effort from Zelem, who went on a driving run through the centre of the pitch before shooting from 30 yards — her strike dipping towards the top corner only for Swedish international Hedvig Lindahl to punch it out for a corner.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) September 27, 2015
Five minutes before half-time, Chelsea doubled their lead after Aluko cut the ball back to the waiting Kirby who made no mistake from six yards.
The lop-sided scoreline going into the second half barely told the story of the game with Liverpool having an abundance of activity in and around the box with numerous corners. The Reds has been unlucky hitting the post twice and were made to pay for not being as clinical as the Londoners.
Liverpool made a change at the break as Maz Pacheco came on for Ryland but less than 10 minutes into the second half Chelsea got the killer third goal when Aluko pounced on a back pass to get herself on the score sheet.
White was unlucky not to pull a goal back after an excellent run from Harris, cutting in from the right to tee up the New Zealander for a strike that went inches wide.
Substitutes Ashley Hodson and Asisat Oshoala replaced Staniforth and Smorsgard, the latter making her return from a two-month injury lay off and looking bright.
But it finished 4-0, Chelsea firmly placing themselves back at the top of the league table with one game to play. So Yun had opened the scoring and finished it with Davison once again providing the cross.
Into injury time, Stout was caught by Borges with the Reds keeper going down clutching her shoulder and requiring treatment on the pitch. With a number of important games coming up, Liverpool will be hoping the injury isn’t serious.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Stout, Harris, Bonner, Omarsdottir, Dowie, Smorgard (Oshoala 77), White, Ryland (Pacheco 46), Zelem, Staniforth (Hodson 64), Murray.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH Martha Harris
Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo