After going winless in their previous four matches, including two losses last week, the Liverpool FC Women got back into the win column in a big way. After weathering some early pressure and denying several good chances for Brighton, the Reds took control of the match and never looked back.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
It was a big day for the stalwart defender. Prior to the match, Bonner was recognized with a ceremony for becoming the club’s leading appearance leader in the WSL era having played in 135 matches for Liverpool. Once the game began, Bonner showed why she has been depended upon for so long. She had a huge clearance off the line early to keep Brighton out of the net and followed up with the opening goal for the Reds with a brilliant flicked header from a corner kick.
Strike Force Heating Up
Liverpool started the season very short-handed up top due to injuries. The strike force is finally getting back to full health and showed just how good they can be against Brighton. Sophie Roman Haug had two assists and snatched a late goal. Shanice van de Sanden, who missed the mid-week match due to the birth of her daughter, started alongside Roman Haug and was an absolute handful. She finished with a goal, and was inches away to having a couple more. Leanne Kiernan continued her path to full fitness, replacing van de Sanden and showing off her own electric pace and playmaking ability. Kiernan finished with an assist, and also saw a strong strike pushed onto the crossbar.
The Aussie goalkeeper got her first WSL start after signing for Liverpool this summer and showed just why she was brought in. She made several really crucial saves in the opening 20 minutes as Brighton piled on the pressure, including a diving stop at full extension off of a deflected shot. Without her heroics in the early going, it could have been a very different story on the day. She also showed off her distribution, and her long pass out of the back started the sequence for Liverpool’s fourth goal.
While her midfield compatriots Ceri Holland (goal) and Marie Höbinger (assist) both played very well and got on the score sheet, Nagano was the most influential of the three against Brighton. The Japanese international seemed to always pop up in the right place to win the ball back, whether with an interception or a well-timed tackle. She was calm under Brighton’s high press, always making sure she provided a good angle to be an outlet and was never wasteful when she was on the ball. Her vision and passing range were on display as she controlled the temp of the match from her holding midfield role throughout much of the match.
This may seem harsh considering the experienced Liverpool goalkeeper didn’t even set foot on the pitch against Brighton. She may have a very difficult time getting back on the pitch in the WSL, however, after an absolutely top shelf showing from Teagan Micah. Laws has been a stalwart in net, but this seems likely to be the beginning of a transition to a more reserve role.
Discussing the Narrative
“I’m so happy. I can’t wait to see my baby girl again. I’m flying back tonight to see her and I can’t wait. My celebration was for my baby girl.”
-Shanice van de Sanden after scoring in her first match back after the birth of her daughter
What Happens Next
Yet again, the club season is interrupted by an international break. Liverpool will return to action after the break on December 10 with a home match against the promoted side Bristol City.