That’s a match that will sting for a while. Liverpool absolutely bossed it for the vast majority of the match, controlling the ball and creating some good chances from start to finish. West Ham didn’t get a shot off until midway through the second half. Despite taking a deserved lead early in the second half, Liverpool failed to put the match to bed and West Ham equalized with a very scrappy goal deep into stoppage time.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
All of Liverpool’s midfielders deserve plaudits today, but it was the Japanese international who probably outshine everyone else. Nagano put on a masterclass, popping up seemingly everywhere to either receive a pass or collect a loose ball. She was a huge part of Liverpool’s impressive ability to keep hold of the ball and move it into advanced positions (more on that later). Nagano just kept everything ticking along brilliantly. She also popped up to rip a shot from distance that almost beat Mackenzie Arnold for an opening goal.
Marie Höbinger and Ceri Holland
While Fuka keeps things ticking, Höbinger and Holland brought the energy and drive in dominant midfield. Both players pressed with great energy and forced West Ham into a multitude of turnovers. That’s exactly how Liverpool’s goal happened with the press causing a rushed pass that Holland stepped in front of her mark to intercept. She smartly fed it to Höbinger who ripped a low shot into the far corner.
Both players were a part of several other chances, with Holland often peeling wide to allow Taylor Hinds to tuck inside. Holland beat players on the dribble and worked outside in to provide service or take a shot. She rattled the crossbar late in the first half with a powerful strike. Höbinger Put in some good set piece deliveries from corner kicks, finding the heads of Sophie Roman Haug and Gemma Bonner. She also put one directly under the crossbar.
Liverpool absolutely dominated possession of the ball against West Ham, especially in the first half. The Reds had 70% of the ball in the first half, and finished with almost 60% for the match. This was a full team effort to both easily bypass the West Ham press, as well as win seemingly every ball that popped loose. The defenders were all calm in possession, taking their time to draw West Ham out of shape before finding Fuka Nagano in midfield or the wing backs to either side. The midfielders pounced on seemingly every loosed ball, and did well to shield the ball on the turn before progressing up the field. With all of the possession, the Reds didn’t concede a shot to West Ham until the 73rd minute.
Converting Control Into Goals
While Liverpool had the lions share of the ball, they struggled to generate too many clear chances, especially in the first half. With two new strikers playing together, it’s understandable that it may take a while for things to gel up top. Still, Liverpool had some good chances. Both Ceri Holland and Gemma Bonner hit the crossbar, and Missy Bo Kearns had a clean look at goal late.
Icing the match
As West Ham threw numbers forward to chase a goal late, they left gaps that Liverpool had the opportunity to exploit. Missy Bo Kearns could have finished the match off late, steaming through the center with a clear site at goal, but she fizzed a shot just on the wrong side of the match.
The Reds also saw some opportunities to slow the match down and take some time off the clock but failed to capitalize, including Missy Bo Kearns attempting to play the ball off of a defender for a corner but instead seeing the ball stay in play. That made conceding the equalizer with a minute left in extra time an even more bitter pill to swallow.
From The Manager
“I just think it shows when you’ve got your chances you need to try to convert them. West Ham were always going to have a spell in the game.”
What Happens Next
Liverpool will have to deal with the poor taste in their mouth for a while as an international break looms. The Reds will be back in action against their bogey team, Leicester City, on November 5th.