Despite Liverpool leading in possession and shots taken, Everton were still able to beat them in their own backyard. A massive backyard at that. As part of Women’s Football Weekend, Anfield was opened up to the women’s teams and around 23,500 fans came out to support them. (About half of the 54,000 capacity stadium was not open due to license restrictions.)
Everton Manager Willie Kirk went with an attack-minded squad to start out, boldly choosing 18-year old Elise Hughes, who had yet to receive a league start this season until today. Perhaps he was hoping for her to score like she had during her first start last season against Liverpool, but she never got into a rhythm and was subbed off at halftime for Hannah Cain. Of course, the main headline was that in form striker Chloe Kelly couldn’t play due to a red card suspension from the last Continental Cup game but it is also notable that attacking midfielder Inessa Kaagman, Abbey-Leigh Stringer and Chaney Boye-Hlorkah received starts with French international Maeva Clemaron on the bench:
Everton (4-2-3-1): Tinja Korpela, Esme Morgan, Gabby George, Kika Van Es, Danielle Turner; Inessa Kaagman, Abbey-Leigh Stringer; Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Simone Magill, Lucy Graham; Elise Hughes
Substitutes: Hannah Cain for Hughes on 45, Maeva Clemaron for Abbey Leigh-Stringer 63, Molly Pike for Kaagman on 83
Substitutes not used: Kirstie Levell, Taylor Hinds, Georgia Brougham, Megan Finnigan
The difference in the game came down to the keepers. Liverpool got off 11 shots but Tinja-Riikka Korpela made saves like this:
Korpela has now kept 4 clean sheets (out of 6 games) and is 2nd among keepers in the WSL behind only Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck.
The Reds keeper made an error in the final moments of the first half by fumbling Everton captain Lucy Graham’s shot from distance, causing the 2,500 away fans to celebrate the 1-0 lead.
Graham wins Woman of the Match for not only scoring but also for blocking quite a few chances around the box. Everton defenders Dan Turner, Gabby George and Esme Morgan all impressed and helped secure the 1-0 win.
Former Blue, Liverpool striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk was rendered scoreless and was subbed off in the second half for Rinsola Babajide who continued to pester the Everton defense and create several opportunities. Many Reds were left wondering why Babajide didn’t start the game to begin with but Morgan somehow made sure she didn’t score:
Incredibly, Everton has now moved up to fourth place, one above Manchester United, who beat them 3-0 to in the Continental Cup.
After the game, Kirk told WSL.com:
“It is always good to get a win when you are not at your best, and I don’t think we were at our best in terms of keeping the ball. But in the second half we showed real character and defended really well. It was daunting in the second half, with 11 Liverpool players and the power of the Kop coming at you, but we held on.”
Everton face Manchester City for that pesky Continental Cup on Thursday night and then the Spurs on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the league:
The WSL’s crowd record was broken: 38,262 fans watched Spurs vs Arsenal at Tottenham’s stadium
Vivianne Miedema is now tied with Chloe Kelly for top goalscorer of the WSL but leads due to having more assists (boo).
They did it!