For 45 minutes, Chelsea looked at the mighty team that won their third consecutive WSL title last season. But the previous 45 was another worrying performance after a modest opening-day defeat to Liverpool.
Manchester City scored 10 goals before Fran Kirby put Chelsea ahead with the first shot on target. Right after that, Man City immediately hit the post to find an equalizer.
Chelsea were lucky to take the lead in the first half, but it was like a mark of champions that somehow they got ahead.
“Sometimes you have to do it,” said Chelsea manager Emma Hayes. “First half, I think we overplayed, we overplayed and went from underplaying a week ago to overplaying this week. We have to find the balance, but it’s game number two. two, I think it’s like a second game of the Season.
“Our performance in the second half was what I expected from us, it was more controlled, we dominated all areas.”
The Blues have found their old form with smooth, precise passes to dominate the ball and open the scoring for Man City. In the end, they got an important win against one of the top teams in the league and that could be just what they need to start their season.
Before the Manchester side took on Chelsea on Sunday, manager Gareth Taylor admitted his side were prepared to play the ball longer forward rather than constantly playing short. With Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, it’s clear why.
The Jamaican forward was one of the constant players for Chelsea’s experienced backline, as Shaw taunted Blues defenders Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan – who have won numerous Women’s Super Cup titles. and the Champions League between them.
But what makes a good striker a great striker? Seize the opportunity. Shaw was at the heart of the 11 chances City posed for Chelsea – none of which succeeded. Much of that is due to the 25-year-old’s finishing ability.
Chelsea show the challenge that lies ahead for the Man City striker. You don’t have to play well, as Shaw did in his joint match in the first half at Kingsmeadow, to be a winner.
The striker has all the attributes needed to become one of the WSL’s top players – plus she has a goalscoring record to back it up. 34 goals in 39 games for Bordeaux plus 16 in her first WSL season last term.
How Shaw translates that history into his form this season will determine whether City can truly progress from last term.
The stage has been set for Liverpool. In front of 27,000 supporters at Anfield, Matt Beard’s side were ready for a return to home after a shock win over Chelsea on the opening day of the season last weekend.
But they were brought back to earth with a bump. The newly promoted Reds are the second-best team throughout the game against their Merseyside rivals and now the reality will come.
Everton certainly didn’t suffer too much in this case, perhaps neither did Liverpool. The intensity they showed against Chelsea was unmatched while they frequently sacrificed control inside their own half. When opportunities came, they didn’t take them.
Liverpool are without striker Leanne Kiernan, who is out for a few months and may need surgery due to an ankle injury sustained in the win over Chelsea although Everton are still too strong.
Everton showed WSL experience in their big game to inflict a modest defeat, which will prompt Liverpool to adjust their sights.
Everton’s Jess Park scored the goal of the game in their 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. A cool, calm finish after deftly over the head of goalkeeper Rachel Laws in the penalty area.
Scoring such a goal in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000 at Anfield is the moment most young strikers dream of – especially after missing a similar goal in training the day before.
“I tried that in training yesterday and messed things up,” she told Sky Sports after the game. “I’m so glad it went tonight!”
In front of Sky’s cameras, Park – on loan from Manchester City – revealed the advice Everton manager Brian Sorensen gave her after missing such opportunities. “Calm, calm – overcome it in the goal.” It’s good to see her heeding that advice.
But how many more managers will Mr. Park work under, especially from an international perspective? The 20-year-old has shown she can cope with the pressure of the big stage, with perhaps an England call-up imminent.
Perhaps the problem in Park’s way is that there is too much competition for the Lionesses’ attacking roles, especially among players her age. The likes of Lauren James, Ebony Salmon, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Lauren Hamp are all 23 or under and will be England’s next generation of talent.
But more than that, and Park would be too hard to ignore. As Kelly Smith put it: “If she keeps working hard, and she has all the vision, technique, speed and strength, then the world is her oyster.”