WSL: Liverpool pick up statement win against Aston Villa

Emma Koivisto of Liverpool celebrates scoring a goal with teammates
Emma Koivisto of Liverpool celebrates scoring during the Barclays Women's Super League match vs Aston Villa (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

A 4-1 win for Liverpool against Aston Villa means they are now tied on points with fourth-placed Manchester United. Meanwhile, hopes of cracking the top six dwindled for a depleted Aston Villa.

Today’s match stood out to be an important match for both sides. For Matt Beard’s Liverpool, it was an opportunity to close down the gap between them and United. They aimed to make themselves known outside of the top three after finishing seventh last season. On the other hand, Carla Ward’s Villa looked to move up the standings after a positive run of games.

With Villa having a tough start to the season, they looked to have turned things around in their last five matches. However, they faced another week this time around with a depleted squad and a lack of depth on the bench.

Starting XIs

Aston Villa

Van Domselaar; Mayling, Maritz, Patten, Pacheco; Nobbs, Corsie, Dali; Lehmann, Magill, Hanson.

Liverpool

Laws; Bonner, Fahey, Fisk; Koivisto, Höbinger, Nagano, Lundgaard, Matthews; Haug, Enderby.

Heading into the match, both sides knew they were going to be missing key players. Aston Villa were without the likes of Rachel Daly and Adriana Leon in attack, as well as those unavailable with long-term injuries. Miri Taylor was also unavailable due to her being ineligible to play against her parent club.

Daly missed out as she served her last game of suspension after receiving a red card following the game against Bristol City before the break. In Leon’s case, the Canadian international is away with her country in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where she is finding success.

Liverpool also had midfielder Ceri Holland miss out through suspension after a red card in their last match against Brighton. The Reds still await Taylor Hinds’ return after an injury to her calf. Beard revealed earlier this week that Netherlands international Shanice van der Sanden will also miss out through injury. She is said to have picked up an ankle injury while away on international duty.

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First half

In the 19th minute, things opened up with a goal from Reds defender Grace Fisk. After a strong first five minutes from Villa, Liverpool upped the intensity.

A foul on Mia Enderby won the Reds a free-kick. Midfielder Fuka Nagano took the ball short to Marie Höbinger and as they did a one-two, Nagano cleverly picked out Enderby. The forward’s shot was blocked but Fisk was able to recycle the effort and, with a deflection, hit the back of the net.

Liverpool’s manager talked about Sophie Roman Haug’s aerial threat this week and she proved his point as she headed it home for Liverpool’s second in the 29th minute.

Ten minutes before half-time, Villa managed to snag one back from the penalty spot. Gemma Bonner conceded the spot-kick after a foul on Hanson. Sarah Mayling stood up to make it 2-1 before half-time, drilling a low effort into the left corner.

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Second Half

The Villans had started to grow into the game before the end of the first half. Particularly down the right wing with Kirsty Hanson, whose pace proved a threat to Liverpool at times. The winger had a tough battle against Emma Koivisto who became a threat herself, scoring a brace in the second half.

Defender Jasmine Matthews sent a lovely cross into the area and it was Koivisto who finished the shot. The Finnish international stabbed the shot into the bottom left corner, past the hands of Daphne van Domselaar.

The Reds’ triumphant win was confirmed when Koivisto headed it home once again following a cross from Republic of Ireland international Leanne Kiernan, who is finding her way back after a tough battle with injury.

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What is up next?

Liverpool showed intensity in pursuit of goal, their acute decision-making made sure they were clinical in the final third. However, Ward’s side were not without their chances. Unfortunately, they seemed to miss the attacking prowess of Leon and Daly. Villa lacked crucial decisions in the face of goal, which meant they just couldn’t find the back of the Liverpool net when it counted.

Villa now face a tough midweek match against Arsenal in the semi-finals of the Conti Cup. They then have a break in between that and their match against Everton who they are yet to beat this season. Liverpool on the other hand will play against seventh place Leicester in the FA Cup next Saturday.

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