Match report as goals from Marie Hobinger and Natasha Flint earned Liverpool a second win of the season; they remain the only team yet to concede in the WSL; Aston Villa, conversely, have begun the new term with consecutive loses
Sunday 8 October 2023 21:42, UK
Liverpool have begun the new Women's Super League season with two impressive victories after backing up last week's Arsenal success with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
The opener was scored in sensational style by Marie Hobinger in the 21st minute, sidestepping Lucy Parker before lashing her strike top left, with Daphne van Domselaar rooted to the spot.
Midfielder Jordan Nobbs then had the chance to draw Villa - who have started the campaign with back-to-back loses - level midway through the first period, but for a wonderful defensive intervention from Emma Koivisto on her own goal line, diverting Nobbs' strike over the bar.
Ebony Salmon, introduced by Carla Ward at half-time to up the intensity in the final third, nearly pounced on a mistake from Rachel Laws early in the second period, but Liverpool's sturdy backline raced to the aid of their goalkeeper and snuffed out the danger - they remain the only side yet to be breached in the WSL.
The scoreline was made more comfortable for the hosts late on when substitute pairing Melissa Lawley and Natasha Flint combined, with the latter rolling Anna Patten before stroking beyond Van Domselaar.
The Reds, rising to joint-top of the WSL before next weekend's Merseyside derby, haven't won their opening two games of a league season since the 2017 Spring Series under Scott Rogers, where they finished fourth of the nine-team standings.
This was an efficient and businesslike display from Matt Beard's side, who have beaten Arsenal at the Emirates and now Villa to consolidate a glorious start to the new season.
They remain one of two teams - alongside Leicester - to hold a perfect record after two games played, something few would have predicted before a ball was kicked.
The game was won by two moments of brilliance, first from Hobinger, who had help from the lively Ceri Holland down the Liverpool left, before rifling home with a devastating left-footed drive.
The hosts then had Koivisto to thank for some heroic goal-line defending, before the points were sealed by Flint on the break, as she rounded off Lawley's surge by shimmying past Maz Pacheco with a clever turn and sweeping into the bottom right.
Liverpool manager Matt Beard speaking to Sky Sports:
"All wins are important. We're pleased we've managed to get another three points after last week's performance.
"There are little moments where we need to be a bit smarter. Little things, if you look at Emma Koivisto's clearance off the line, we could have put the ball out for a throw - eliminate the risk.
"For the most part, I'm really pleased. I'm a bit concerned by the amount of time being added on, two games we've played nearly 115 minutes. It needs to be looked at.
"These players are going to get injured, it puts a lot of strain on them. It's a worry.
"We have ambitions to break into the top five and we've had a fantastic start, but we need to keep our feet on the ground."
Aston Villa manager Carla Ward speaking to Sky Sports:
"First and foremost, we weren't good enough in any department, on or off the ball. We've not executed anything we went after.
"To be honest, I think we deserved that tonight. We've got to look at it properly because we were miles off it tonight.
"We expect more of ourselves. I've got to look at 'have we got it right?'
"We lacked quality. It's a reality check because that's one of the worst performances we've put out. Everyone's talking about us as a top-four side and the reality is we're miles off that.
"We need to go back to basics. We don't look at the table right now - what we do look at is our standards, and we haven't executed any of that tonight."
Liverpool are in League Cup action on Wednesday with an away trip to play Leicester before returning to WSL action on Sunday where they face Everton, live on Sky Sports, kick off 4.30pm.
Next up for Villa is an away day at Arsenal on Sunday, where The Emirates will host the match, kick off 2pm.