Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool: Sam Kerr delivers late winner as Blues remain in charge of WSL title race

Sam Kerr’s winner with four minutes remaining earned a huge three points for Chelsea  (Getty Images)
Sam Kerr’s winner with four minutes remaining earned a huge three points for Chelsea (Getty Images)

Sam Kerr stepped up with a late winner as Chelsea overcame a disastrous start to beat Liverpool and remain in control of the Women’s Super League title race.

The Australian international struck four minutes from time at Kingsmeadow to complete a hard-fought comeback win, after Niamh Charles had cancelled out a strike from Emma Koivisto that had put Liverpool in front inside two minutes.

Victory left Emma Hayes’ side, playing for the first time since their Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Barcelona, four points behind leaders Manchester United and a point adrift of Manchester City, but they have two games in hand on both teams.

The visitors, who won the reverse fixture 2-1 in September, stunned their hosts when they took a second-minute lead, full-back Koivisto smashing home a volley after Natasha Dowie had crossed to the back post.

Debutant goalkeeper Faye Kirby denied Guro Reiten at her near post after and then palmed away Kerr’s header as the Blues responded. They finally got their reward four minutes before the break when Charles glanced Eve Perisset’s corner past 19-year-old Kirby, although it took a fine stoppage-time save by Ann-Katrin Berger to keep out Shanice van de Sanden before Perisset blocked Dowie’s follow-up to ensure their side went in level.

Hayes turned to her bench soon after the restart, sending on Pernille Harder and Jelena Cankovic for Lauren James and Erin Cuthbert, and the two newcomers almost made a swift impact with Harder only just failing to connect with Cankovic’s whipped cross.

Frustration mounted among the Chelsea ranks as the breakthrough remained stubbornly beyond them ,with Reiten seeing a strike ruled out for offside. A point would have left the reigning champions six points behind United with a worse goal difference.

But they regained control of the title race with four minutes left, when Kerr stabbed home the winner after Jessie Fleming’s attempt had crashed back off the crossbar and dropped at her feet.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.