Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Blues receive wakeup call against resilient Reds
Image: Getty Images/NurPhoto

Liverpool dug deep to earn a vital draw against Chelsea in the FA Women's Super League at Prenton Park.

Niamh Charles had her fifth minute effort cancelled out by a Beth England header 10 minutes later.

But the Reds held on to secure at least a point against a top Chelsea side.

Story of the game

A positive start for Liverpool allowed them to break, Kirsty Linnett’s ball finding the run of Rinsola Babajide on the right flank.

Her attempted cross was cleared comfortably by the Chelsea defence, but it was an early indication the Reds could get some joy down that side.

A driving run from Melissa Lawley minutes later saw her draw a save from Ann-Katrin Berger, exemplifying a bright start for the hosts.

There was an unusual sight this season at Prenton Park on five minutes as cheers from the Liverpool fans rung around the ground, following an early goal from Charles.

A free-kick from Linnett dropped to Jade Bailey in the box. The midfielder was unable to get it under control and a scramble in front of goals allowed Charles to roll it past the Chelsea keeper.

Chelsea had their first real chance with nine minutes gone on the clock, good build-up ending with Drew Spence heading it over the bar, unable to keep it down.

Liverpool then had a good opportunity to extend their lead as Babajide broke on the Blues, skipping through their defence.

The winger sent in a dangerous cross but it evaded Charles who charged into the box.

A huge save from Fran Kitching denied Chelsea an equaliser on 14 minutes.

England looked certain to score but it was palmed away by the Reds keeper.

That was closely followed by a vital goal-line clearance from Sophie Bradley-Auckland to prevent the follow-up rippling the back of the net.

England doesn't miss twice though and moments later she headed the Blues level on 15 minutes, following a cross from Guro Reiten.

On the half-hour mark, the visitors had a glaring opportunity to go 2-1 up after England headed wide, getting on the end of a wonderful cross from Ramona Bachmann.

Things had settled after a bright start from Liverpool. The Reds very much camped in their own half as Chelsea piled on the pressure to find a second goal.

The Reds still remained a threat, though, as they utilised their pace up-front.

34 minutes in, some good build-up from Liverpool saw Lawley drill a powerful cross low into the box.

Babajide was beaten to it by the Chelsea goalkeeper, but positive play from the hosts.

It was vital for Liverpool they remained level at half time and they managed to hold on, despite a late flurry of late chances from the London club.

As the second-half kicked off, the Reds had an early opportunity. A cross from Charles just evaded the head of Babajide, who had found some space in the box.

Chelsea then had a huge chance on 51 minutes as a headed effort from Sophie Ingle hit the post, Niamh Fahey then cleared the rebound. 

The visitors pushed throughout the second-half to take the lead but it wasn't quite falling for them as England failed to find the target in the 69th minute.

Babajide continued to push and worked a late chance for the Reds on 82 minutes.

The forward did well to win the ball back in a dangerous area and her eventual shot, aimed at the near post, was gathered by Berger.

It ended level at Prenton Park as the Reds earned a huge point against one of the league's best sides.

There was disappointment for Emma Hayes and her side, though, as this result sees Arsenal top of the table at Christmas, following their 3-1 victory over Everton earlier in the day.

Takeaways from the match

Liverpool find goalscoring form

It's been a positive week in front of goal for Vicky Jepson's side, with them scoring five in all competitions.

Charles has found the back of the net in their last three, scoring against West Ham, Durham and today against Chelsea.

This could provide a turning point for the Reds as a lack of goals is arguably the biggest reason they find themselves in a relegation scrap this season.

Liverpool are typically losing games by small margins, only conceding one against Manchester City and Arsenal over the last few weeks - defending isn't their problem.

Add more goals to their game in the new year and Liverpool could ensure safety heading into next season.

Chelsea stutter in title race

The Blues still have a game in hand, but it's Arsenal that will be top at Christmas.

England managed to score today, but one wasn't enough on a disappointing afternoon on Merseyside for Hayes and her team.

The addition of Sam Kerr in January could provide a vital boost for the London club as they look to battle it out for the title with the Gunners and Man City.

The two sides are next in action in the New Year when the WSL gets back underway.

Liverpool will travel to the south coast to face Brighton on Sunday January 5.

Chelsea host Reading on the same day in the earlier kick-off. The Royals picked up a 3-1 win over Tottenham at Adams Park in today's other fixtures.

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