Women’s Super League: Opening weekend action talking points

Controversial calls hamper Chelsea

Liverpool were able to recover from a goal to stun Chelsea at Prenton Park on their return to the Women’s Super League after a two-year absence. From the first minute, chaos set in. Gilly Flaherty was penalized in the box for fouling Guro Reiten and Fran Kirby converted the free kick. It looked like there might be a second for Chelsea. And there should have been when Sam Kerr latched onto a lush ball from Kirby and lifted the ball into the net – only for the flag to be raised and the goal ruled out. Closer inspection of fans on social media proved the decision shouldn’t have been ruled an offside, with Kerr slightly ahead of his marker but played by another defender. The Australian then had another goal ruled out before Liverpool struck with a penalty of their own, Katie Stengel scoring after a long shot from Megan Campbell was harshly deemed to have been manipulated by Millie Bright. Stengel calmly repeated the trick five minutes before full time to make it 2-1. Mary Naz

Match report: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea

Half time | Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Sam Kerr came close to stepping off the mark with this brilliant effort. Will she be on the score sheet in the second half? ? pic.twitter.com/z4NuOu6FNL

— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 18, 2022

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Half time | Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Sam Kerr came close to stepping off the mark with this brilliant effort. Will she be on the score sheet in the second half? ? pic.twitter.com/z4NuOu6FNL

— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 18, 2022

Walsh sorely misses the city

Aston Villa edged out an up and down encounter against Manchester City, with their summer signings Rachel Daly and Kenza Dali leading them to a stunning 4-3 victory. Both thwarted the best efforts of a sorely lacking City midfielder Keira Walsh. His absence left Laia Aleixandri with too much to do; the Spaniard couldn’t stop Alisha Lehmann from opening the scoring in the 22nd minute or Daly from doubling the lead 10 minutes later. City temporarily disrupted Villa’s flow with a Laura Coombs goal just before half-time and two more shortly after the break. But a vital strike from Dali and a second from Daly secured a historic victory for the hosts. Villa seemed bolstered by their signings. City will have to simmer and reconsider how best to use theirs. MN

Match report: Aston Villa 4-3Manchester City

Blackstenius towards a big season?

It took Arsenal a while to find their groove against Brighton’s 10-man squad on Friday night, but when they started to click, they did so resoundingly. Clearly Jonas Eidevall has enjoyed a relatively calm summer, unlike some rival clubs who have been more like a revolving door. The press was eager and organised, the combinations around the penalty area smooth and well drilled. And while Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead will continue to capture most of the attention, Stina Blackstenius up front is becoming an increasingly influential force: equally at home as a focal point, connecting play or making decoys in the channels to create space for teammates. According to early evidence, Blackstenius could be in for a big season. Jonathan Liew

Match report: Arsenal 4-0 Brighton

The hosts double their lead thanks to a superb finish from @SBlackstenius!#BarclaysWSL @ArsenalWFC pic.twitter.com/FBvxYmWLXJ

– Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) September 16, 2022

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Zelem’s Declaration of the Century

Maya Le Tissier’s dream debut in Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Reading dominated the headlines, but attention should also be paid to the precision delivery of the centre-back’s two goals. United captain Katie Zelem whipped around the corners for goals from 20-year-old Le Tissier and converted on the spot after Euro super-sub Alessia Russo was deemed brought down by Grace Moloney. Zelem was making his 100th appearance for United and was essential to the team’s declaration opening victory. If there is any concern for United, who are hoping to break into the Champions League for the first time, it may be that they failed to capitalize on their four-goal advantage in the second half. But a match in it is perhaps too harsh a criticism. United have time to build on their performances in the 90 minutes: they won’t play one of the traditional big three until Chelsea visit on November 6. Suzanne Rack

Match report: Manchester United 4-0 Reading

Neville shines for Spurs

Ashleigh Neville’s performance on Sunday summed up everything about Rehanne Skinner’s Tottenham: energetic, passionate and tenacious with a touch of feistiness and the ability to turn on the spectacular. The Spurs vice-captain’s strike was perhaps the pick of the weekend: a daring curling effort from over 35 yards to give his side the lead against the run of play. Tottenham had to dig deep for all three points against a resilient Leicester. Although they took a 2-0 lead before the break, they faced a strong second-half response from a side backed by a home crowd. Neville was at the heart of their performance throughout, covering every blade of grass to ensure the visitors remained on top. Sophie Doney

WHAT. A GOAL. @ashnev10 scores with this beautiful strike!#BarclaysWSL pic.twitter.com/9OGKwfQTzr

– Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) September 18, 2022

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Konchesky’s winning start

Paul Konchesky dominated the battle for new managers as Lisa Evans’ first-half goal gave West Ham the win over Brian Sørensen’s Everton. Evans, who joined Arsenal after spending last season on loan with the Hammers, returned home just before half-time after the visitors failed to clear a corner. Konchesky, who was Ollie Harder’s assistant at West Ham last season, has embarked on a massive overhaul. Five of his 12 signings (which included deals for Evans and another former Arsenal loanee, Halle Houssein) have been named in West Ham’s starting XI. Japanese striker Honoka Hayashi, who joined on deadline day after international team-mate Yui Hasegawa left for Manchester City, was among them. While the team are still getting to know each other and Evans is the only familiar face in the front three, there is no doubt that West Ham’s attacking threat will improve as the players settle in. SW

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