It was bound to happen eventually. Liverpool suffered their first heavy defeat on Saturday against league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It was a one-team contest from the start, though there was a bit of optimism with Shanice van de Sanden making her first league start of the season.
The Reds fell behind early when Lauren James scored her first of three goals in the 11th minute. However, only two minutes later, van de Sanden got free down the right and crossed in a ball which was deflected by a Chelsea player into the net for an own goal.
That would be the only luck afforded to the Reds on the day. Aggie Beaver-Jones returned the lead to the home side by scoring what would be the definitive goal in the 24th minute. Australian superstar Sam Kerr nearly made it three in the first when she correctly guessed Marie Höbinger’s backpass and nearly intercepted it.
The halftime whistle blew with the game at 2-1 in favor of the Blues.
Missy Bo Kearns came on after halftime for the struggling Höbinger, but that didn’t prevent the carnage of the second half. James scooped up the two goals to finish her hat trick within the first 10 minutes of the restart.
With the game well and truly out of reach, it was a matter of trying to get one or two back before the final whistle. While Sophie Roman Haug came close with a header in the 69th minute, it was saved by the Chelsea keeper. In the end, it was Chelsea who managed to find a way through for one more.
Sjoeke Nusken scored their fifth goal of the game with a tap-in from a good cross.
Despite the disappointing result, a lose a Stamford Bridge against the reigning champions isn’t a body blow. Despite that, the Reds still sit in fifth place after seven games — though they could get as far as sixth if Manchester City wins the Manchester Derby tomorrow evening.
That’s just around where any Reds’ fan would hope for them to be at this point in the season. Their performances also show a marked improvement from the beginning of last season, which is more good news.
It won’t be long until Matt Beard’s women go again. On Wednesday they welcome Manchester United to Prenton Park for another Continental League Cup group match.