Shock for Matildas as WSL big guns lose

·2-min read

Sam Kerr couldn't find the target and fellow Matilda Mary Fowler didn't make much impression on her Women's Super League bow as their marquee teams suffered shock defeats on the opening weekend.

Kerr, the Golden Boot winner as the WSL's top scorer for the past two seasons, had what had looked a superb goal disallowed as champions Chelsea suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at newly promoted Liverpool on Sunday.

That came after new signing Fowler, brought on after halftime by Manchester City in the lunchtime kick-off, had a quiet match as they were defeated in a 4-3 thriller at Aston Villa, for whom another Aussie international Emily Gielnik had a brief, late 10-minute cameo as sub.

It's rare when Kerr doesn't find the target for Chelsea and the Matildas captain must have thought that after strike partner Fran Kirby had put the Blues ahead from the penalty spot early, she'd also opened her 2022-23 account with a crisp half-volley from the edge of the box.

But she was on that occasion denied by the offside flag and, while then constantly a threat for the champs with her aerial prowess in the final third for the rest of the match, Chelsea's finishing remained poor.

"For us going forwards, I don't think we could hit a barn door today," lamented coach Emma Hayes, as her side paid the price with a pair of second-half penalties from Katie Stengel giving the Reds a wholly unexpected win on their return to the top-flight.

Rachel Daly, one of England's Euro22 heroines, proved Villa's star with her two goals helping them earn their first WSL win over City, who brought on both Fowler and fellow Matilda Hayley Raso as substitutes to little effect.

Among the rest of the league's green-and-gold contingent, Kyah Simon also came off the bench to help Tottenham Hotspur beat Leicester 2-1 while Mackenzie Arnold made a key save early in the second half for West Ham as they beat Everton 1-0.

On Friday, Arsenal had got the season off to a flying start with a 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, with Caitlin Foord on song as she set up one of the goals.