As the crescent moon cast shadows on the pitch at Walton Hall Park on Wednesday, it was goodnight for visiting Liverpool. Despite raging winds and frigid temperatures, Everton found a way to take home three points and stay competitive in the Continental Cup.
Everton started the game with energy and determination, winning an early set piece. However, Izzy Christiansen’s pass into the box was easily dealt with — a chance wasted. Offense quickly turned to defense as Liverpool broke on the counter; Rikke Sevecke displayed strength in seeing the ball out of play.
For a team that has struggled to break opponents down in recent matches, Everton struck early courtesy of a 5th minute Christiansen tap-in. Five minutes later, Christiansen again stood over a set piece but came up short once more.
Not only did Coach Willie Kirk split from his normal 4-3-3, the implementation of a 3-4-2-1 allowed the Scottish manager to give his younger players an opportunity to feature. Of the starting XI, four were 21 or younger, with the average age of Wednesday’s cup-winning squad coming in at 23 years and four months.
"It was a game we needed to win. The morale is good, and we're going into the international break with a win which is always important."— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) November 19, 2020
️ @poppypattinson3 reflects on her first Merseyside Derby... #EFC pic.twitter.com/9MPdzPjRzU
With a youth movement on full display, Everton fans were invited to watch the formidable future of the club unfold on the pitch at Walton Hall. Molly Pike and Poppy Pattinson looked lively and dangerous on the wings, Grace Clinton was a dominant force operating as the team’s eight for much of the night and Damaris Egurrola continued her breakout season by screening the back four and cutting out Liverpool’s forward progress.
Liverpool had several chances in the first half but failed to threaten Tinja-Riikka Korpela in net; the Reds either shot directly at the Finnish shot-stopper or powered the ball over the net. Aside from set pieces, Liverpool generated offense almost solely due to sloppy turnovers from Everton; Rinsola Babajide and Amalie Thestrup were both beneficiaries of mistakes from Megan Finnigan and Lucy Graham.
In the latter stages of the first, Clinton received a picturesque pass from Graham, but a combination of a bouncing ball and the swirling winds saw her drag the shot well wide of the net. There was no added time as the whistle blew, with Everton holding an unconvincing 1–0 lead.
Everton started the second half with two early corners and began to take over the affair. Christiansen seemed to find her footing from set pieces, delivering several fizzing crosses into the box, none of which were finished by a teammate, however.
Hayley Raso, who came on in the 78th minute for Clinton, almost scored with her first touch of the ball — a soft pass inside the 18 was picked off by Nicoline Sørensen and passed to Raso. The Australian winger simply needed a bit more power and elevation to score what would have been the team’s second goal.
Sørensen later missed a sitter in front of net and Raso saw an excellent effort saved brilliantly by Liverpool goalkeeper Rylee Foster. The two teams played well past the additional three minutes of added time, with Liverpool seeing a shot on net in the runoff; Korpela made a comfortable save to close out the game.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The game-winning goal. As is the case with many an Everton goal, this move started at the back with Danielle Turner, who smashed a long pass to Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah. Boye-Hlorkah proceeded to slip past two Liverpool defenders, maintain possession, bait the goalkeeper off her line and knock a pass into the middle of the 18, finding an unmarked Izzy Christiansen for a tap in; Christiansen’s third goal of the season in all competitions was also her easiest.
1. Izzy Christiansen
Five years senior the average age of Wednesday’s squad, Christiansen was a leader all over the pitch. With such a young team, Christiansen’s versatility to play multiple positions gives Kirk positional flexibility to implement different tactical frameworks. The English international has a penchant for scoring big goals when called upon, and last night was no different.
2. Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah
Everton’s goal epitomized Boye-Hlorkah’s importance to the team. She sprinted 35 yards, took on two defenders and had the strength and composure to square the ball to a wide-open Christiansen. Keep in mind she did all of that while under pressure. With Valérie Gauvin set to miss several weeks, Boye-Hlorkah will be asked to produce offensively for the Toffees.
3. Grace Clinton
In her first Merseyside Derby, academy player Grace Clinton surely made an impression under the lights. Showing all the exuberance of a young player, Clinton displayed a composure that belied her youthful spirit. She gave and received several tough tackles, everything you would expect of a derby match. Not only was she a defensive disruptor, she also looked to drive the ball forward in attack.
Everton (3-4-2-1): 23-Tinja-Riikka Korpela; 3-Danielle Turner, 20-Megan Finnigan, 22-Rikke Sevecke; 12-Damaris Egurrola, 15-Molly Pike, 17-Lucy Graham (c), 30-Poppy Pattinson; 8-Izzy Christiansen, 26-Grace Clinton; 7-Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah
Substitutes: 2-Ingrid Moe Wold for Sevecke 45, 13-Abbey-Leigh Stringer for Graham 63, 14-Nicoline Sorensen for Boye-Hlorkah 63, 16-Hayley Raso for Clinton 78
Unused Substitutes: 1-Sandy MacIver
Goals: Christiansen 5
Liverpool (4-5-1): 13-Rylee Foster; 2-Becky Jane, 3-Leighanne Robe, 5-Niamh Fahey, 12-Taylor Hinds; 10-Rinsola Babajide, 11-Melissa Lawley, 15-Meikayla Moore, 21-Missy Bo Kearns, 27-Rachel Furness; 9-Amalie Thestrup
Substitutes: 14-Ashley Hodson for Thestrup 67, 19-Amy Rogers for Moore 71
Unused Substitutes: 1-Rachel Laws, Eleanor Heeps, Mia Ross, Lucy Parry