Liverpool Ladies Win Merseyside Derby With Second-Half Brace

Liverpool took the local bragging rights on the opening night of the new WSL season, after Natasha Harding and Niamh Charles struck in the second half to beat Everton 2-0.

The hosts failed to clear an Alex Greenwood free-kick, and Wales international Harding showed her striker’s instinct to smash home past the otherwise impressive Lizzie Durack, before Charles added a second at the death.

Andy Spence’s side had no fewer than five debutants in the starting eleven, but it was goalkeeper Durack – returning to the club after a four-year spell away – who was the standout performer as she kept Liverpool at bay for most of the game.

Durack denied Liverpool’s new signing Beth England on several occasions, once when it seemed England had to convert after Jess Clarke’s header had struck the crossbar.

Durack also saved from Caroline Weir; her stinging effort was palmed over the bar by the former Harvard graduate.

But Everton had big chances themselves. England under-23 striker Claudia Walker thought she’d done enough when she flicked the ball past Siobhan Chamberlain, but Casey Stoney managed to get back in time to clear off the line.

It was Greenwood who created Scott Rodgers’ side’s best chances, but England twice failed to convert tempting balls into the Everton box.

The breakthrough did eventually come from a Greenwood cross, as Harding pounced to ensure Liverpool took the spoils in the Merseyside derby.

And as Everton pushed for an equaliser, substitute Charles rolled home a second with the final kick of the match.

Liverpool goalscorer Niamh Charles told “I’ve waited a long time for that goal and I probably should have had another one to be honest.

“If you could write the script that’s how you’d write it, to come on and score in a derby game and I can’t wait to go and enjoy it.

“Natasha can’t stop scoring, she deserves it as well and always shows up in big games. We have options with her and Beth, they’re really diverse and playing with them is really helpful.”

Everton’s Danielle Turner added: “We’re disappointed, it wasn’t through a lack of chances or effort, but it’s a step up and it shows us the level we’re going to be at this season.

“We had half chances ourselves but we didn’t take them when we needed to.

“Their finishing was the difference, little bits of quality and the finer details. They took their chances and we didn’t.”

Everton (4-4-2): Lizzie Durack; Danielle Turner, Georgia Brougham, Gabrielle George, Siri Worm; Mollie Green, Megan Finnigan, Jodie Brett, Marthe Munsterman; Claudia Walker, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk

Substitutes: Angharad James for Green 52, Simone Magill for Brett 77, Chloe Kelly for Sweetman-Kirk 77

Substitutes not used: Kirstie Levell, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Olivia Chance, Faye Bryson

Bookings: Finnigan 28

Liverpool (4-3-3): Siobhan Chamberlain; Satara Murray, Casey Stoney, Gemma Bonner, Alex Greenwood; Sophie Ingle, Laura Coombs, Caroline Weir; Jess Clarke, Natasha Harding, Beth England

Substitutes: Niamh Charles for Clarke 57, Ashley Hodson for England 82

Substitutes not used: Becky Flaherty, Ellie Fletcher, Amy Rodgers, Kate Longhurst, Ali Johnson

Bookings: Weir 90

Att: 1,439

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