Super Falcons Asisat Oshoala scored a sublime first goal in a red shirt as she inspired Liverpool Ladies to their first win of the season, with a 2-1 victory over Birmingham at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes on Wednesday night.
According to liverpoolfc.com, it was Matt Beard’s side first win of the season and the defending Women’s Super League champions bounced back to form in style.
After two back-to-back defeats, Beard insisted it was only a matter of time before his side found their true identity once again, and with new signing Oshoala in inspirational form, it was a fine victory against a Birmingham side who had beaten the Reds in their opening game of the season in the FA Cup.
Oshoala netted the opening goal in first-half stoppage time with a sweet volley and then provided the assist for Fara Williams to seal the three points.
Going into the game, Beard made three changes to his side following the 2-1 defeat by Sunderland last week. The boss handed a first start in the WSL to close season recruit Line Smorsgard, and there were recalls for Becky Easton and Kate Longhurst.
The away side made a bright start and in the opening minute Emily Westwood found herself running clear on goal, but Satara Murray showed just why she will be an astute capture by Beard this season when she quickly closed down the space and blocked out the striker.
Then at the other end Oshoala found space just outside the box but her resulting effort was well held by Becky Spencer.
On 13 minutes a superb pass from Longhurst released Smorsgard in space, but instead of hitting the ball first time towards goal, the No.10 was caught in two minds and was closed down.
Oshoala was having a very influential game in the middle of the park and one superb run saw her glide past three defenders before being taken down just outside the box. From the resulting free-kick Williams curled the effort just wide.
On 18 minutes a superb ball over the top from Natasha Dowie released Oshoala who unselfishly tried to lay the ball across goal to the unmarked Smorsgard, but unfortunately the pass carried too much weight on it as it sailed wide of the target.
Beard’s side were playing some excellent football but just couldn’t find that breakthrough to make their pressure count and there was always the danger of Birmingham on the counter attack.
One such break down the right from Alex Windell almost produced a goal. Her cross fell invitingly to Remi Allen, but off balance the No.8 could only fire high and wide.
There was some concern for Easton when the Liverpool defender took a nasty fall following a challenge, but after treatment thankfully she was able to continue.
On 31 minutes Liverpool had the ball in the net but Longhurst’s joy turned to despair when Oshoala was penalised for pushing in the penalty area.
Three minutes later a superb run down the right from Martha Harris found Dowie whose right wing cross flew just past the upright, and Oshoala was just off target with a superb effort that flashed just past the post.
In first half stoppage time came the breakthrough. A superb cross from Gemma Bonner from the right found Oshoala who found the net with a sweet volley. No more than Beard’s charges deserved.
Just past the hour mark Birmingham had a glorious chance when Melissa Lawley’s cross fell invitingly for Westwood who took her eye off the ball at the vital time and narrowly missed the ball.
The heavy rain wasn’t making conditions ideal to say the least, but Beard’s side got the vital second goal they deserved on 70 minutes when Williams converted after a superb run and cross down the right from Oshoala.
With nine minutes remaining the away side got a lifeline when a mix-up in the defence allowed Aoife Mannion to step in and give themselves hope.
However, Beard’s side held out for the victory as the defending champions showed they will not be giving up their title without a fight.
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