Sam Kerr’s late winner keeps Chelsea on course for another WSL title
Sam Kerr’s late winner kept Chelsea in control of their Women’s Super League title destiny as they saw off Liverpool 2-1.
The Australia international struck four minutes from time at Kingsmeadow to complete a laboured comeback win after Niamh Charles had cancelled out Emma Koivisto’s early opener.
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 with 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 14 minutes and then palmed away Kerr’s 22nd-minute 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 made her move within nine minutes of 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 63rd-minute cross.
Frustration mounted among the Chelsea ranks as the breakthrough remained stubbornly beyond them with Reiten seeing an 82nd-minute 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 to her.