Katie Stengel joked she was just trying not to embarrass herself on her debut in the women’s Super League – instead she lifted newly promoted Liverpool to a 2-1 win over holders Chelsea.
In front of a record crowd of 3,006 fans at Prenton Park, three penalty shoot-outs eventually decided who went victorious, with Fran Kirby within three minutes putting the dominant visitors on the scoresheet.
But the Reds took advantage whenever they could, Stengel equalizing with a second-half penalty and then sending Zecira Musovic the wrong way in the 87th minute to seal Liverpool’s triumphant return to the top flight.
“I said to myself don’t miss, please don’t miss, all these people here are going to make fun of me if I miss,” the 30-year-old American told Sky Sports.
“I thought I had to change it and I got lucky I guess.”
However, the forward insisted the end result was not the result of luck but of sheer determination and an invigorating half-time speech from head coach Matt Beard.
“He just reiterated that we have to believe in ourselves,” she added. “We can win this game and there’s just one other team out there, another 11 players and we’ve prepared all the pre-season so why not believe in us?”
Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes was frustrated by what she felt was an effort unsuitable for a side chasing their fourth straight WSL title.
“Listen, (Liverpool) scored a goal with a throw-in that led to (to) a penalty and the second was a substitution that was another penalty,” she said.
“It’s not like they had multiple shots in open play, they just maximized situations and I don’t think we could hit a barn door today.”
But the blues boss was anything but panicked by the result.
“I say it all the time, what’s there to worry about when you’re losing a football game?” She said. “I’m not emotional about it. I think we have to think, look back and next week is a new week.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/emma-hayes-womens-super-league-reds-fran-kirby-liverpool-b2169955.html Emma Hayes calms down over defeat while Katie Stengel avoids embarrassment