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Women’s Super League: Liverpool 0-1 Everton

WSL highlights: Liverpool Women 0-1 Everton Women

Liverpool are still searching for their first win of the season after local rivals Everton edged the first Women's Super League match to be held at Anfield, in front of a crowd of 23,500.

Lucy Graham's long-range strike rolled into the bottom corner on the stroke of half-time after Liverpool keeper Anke Preuss had fumbled the Everton skipper's shot.

The hosts, who sit bottom of the table after registering just one point from their opening six WSL games, were the better side territorially with 11 shots to Everton's six.

Victory for Everton takes them 11 points above Liverpool and they sit in fourth place in the table.

There was huge anticipation before kick-off - a number of fans attending the 54,074-capacity stadium for the first time, many sitting in the famous Kop stand.

The home fans sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' as the players walked out on to the pitch but you could hear the Everton contingent chanting throughout.

Those 'noisy neighbours' were almost silenced within two minutes when Melissa Lawley's long-range shot was saved by Everton keeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela and Liverpool came close again moments later when Niamh Charles' cut-back almost fell for Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.

Twenty-year-old Charles, a lifelong Liverpool fan who regularly attends matches at Anfield to watch Jürgen Klopp's Reds, was the orchestrator of a number of chances in the first half.

Kirsty Linnett was the most frequent beneficiary and thought she had broken the deadlock, only to be denied by a sublime save at the right-hand post by keeper Korpela.

Liverpool's dominance ultimately came to nothing and they were punished for it when Preuss' costly mistake gifted Everton a goal seconds before the half-time whistle.

The second half continued in much the same manner as Charles' shot was blocked in the six-yard area, Danielle Turner sliding in at the crucial moment.

Everton, though, always posed a threat on the break and Simone Magill could have doubled their lead late on but her first-time volley bounced inches wide.

The visiting fans behind the goal roared in celebration moments later when the full-time whistle went and the players huddled together before thanking the supporters.

While Liverpool's winless run extends to six games in the league, Everton boss Willie Kirk has got his team firing with four wins, including two on the road.

But the Reds, who had an average attendance of 536 last season at their usual ground - Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park - will be pleased with the turnout on a weekend where women's football has been celebrated at several men's grounds across the UK.

Liverpool manager Vicky Jepson told BBC Radio 5 Live:

"I'm devastated for the type of goal we conceded, because they weren't going to score unless we give them that goal.

"I know Anke is going to be gutted about that and we'll all look after her and pick her up from the mistake.

"In terms of our own team performance, it probably hurts more than ever as we were the better team. I'm not just saying that because of the occasion.

"We created so many opportunities, but we just couldn't find the back of the net."

Everton manager Willie Kirk told BBC Radio 5 Live:

"As a club, we've not had much success here over the years. Whether it's men, women or under-10s, any Merseyside derby win is special.

"To do it here in front of 23,500 people, it's a special day. The players are buzzing as are the staff for the way they prepared the team.

"I've not tried to dampen the occasion this week, I've refused to talk it down. I wanted the players to feel the buzz and get inspired by it.

"I talked about winning a 90-minute performance and we've got the three points and it's put us in a great position."

On climbing to fourth in the table: "We're not title contenders, we finished second from bottom last year.

"We've brought a lot of new faces in over the summer and it's brought some great competition into the club. But we've probably got the 10th-highest budget in the league.

"If we can finish in the top half this season, that for us will be seen as progress, so we won't get carried away."


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50363867

Women’s Super League: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Arsenal

WSL highlights: Tottenham Hotspur Women 0-2 Arsenal Women

The Women's Super League crowd record was smashed for the second time this season but the 38,262 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw Arsenal claim the north London bragging rights.

Scotland star Kim Little and Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema's second-half goals won the division's first derby between the two sides to keep Arsenal a point behind leaders Chelsea.

Both teams had created good chances to take the lead amid a crackling atmosphere, in what was the marquee game of the Football Association's inaugural women's football weekend.

The attendance far surpassed the 31,213 that watched the Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium on the season's opening weekend - and was more than seven times higher than the record of 5,265 which stood prior to this term.

The home fans - whose side were meeting Arsenal in the top tier for the first time after Spurs' promotion last season - were almost celebrating when striker Kit Graham twice went close before the break.

After a slow start, Spurs grew in confidence during the first half and should have led when ex-Charlton forward Graham was played through one-on-one, but she shot straight at Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

Graham then almost scored again, hitting the post with a good effort from just outside the box, before Arsenal's Republic of Ireland international Katie McCabe clipped the top of the crossbar at the other end.

But after the break the Gunners asserted their control, dominating possession and building up some pressure before Little broke the deadlock with a clinical finish into the bottom corner and then Miedema's close-range finish wrapped it up.

That sent the away fans into raptures, with Arsenal having sold out their 3,000-strong allocation of tickets, generating a rare sight for the division - a packed, segregated section of celebrating away support.

Record crowd full of noise for north London derby

The Gunners' travelling numbers were more than three times higher than last season's average crowd for the entire division overall.

The home fans generated plenty of noise too, as Spurs' women played for the first time at the club's rebuilt Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The venue was the largest to ever host a fixture in the WSL - which began in 2011 - as it narrowly eclipsed the capacity of the Gunners' Emirates Stadium, which hosted Arsenal and Chelsea in the division in 2012.

In particular, the flag-waving, party-like atmosphere at half-time felt akin to the entertainment on offer at the latter stages of the Women's World Cup, as Sunday's much-anticipated game gave off the feel of one of the most significant of the season.

The result also saw defending champions Arsenal keep pace with their title rivals, although they slipped to third on goal-difference after Man City's 5-0 win over West Ham United, while Spurs - enjoying an otherwise impressive start to the campaign - stay sixth.

Tottenham co-head coach Karen Hills told BBC Sport:

"It's very disappointing not to get the three points because that's what it's all about, but credit to Arsenal - they are champions for a reason.

"We were unfortunate not to come in at half-time 1-0 up but [we] didn't put those chances away. I'm extremely proud and pleased with every single one of our players.

"We've had the opportunity to play at Stamford Bridge, we've had to opportunity to play at the London Stadium, where we'd been the underdogs, where we hadn't had our big crowd behind us, but I thought we managed the occasion really well.

"I don't think the players were fazed at all with 38,000 people behind them. I thought the girls were absolutely outstanding - it is just disappointing to concede those two goals."

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro told BBC Sport:

"A pleasing thing for me was that our usual fans who come to Borehamwood will have seen some new faces. I hope we've whet their appetite to come back.

"We were our own worst enemy today, especially in the first half, with some silly errors and taking a few risks. But I'm very proud of the way we came out in the second half.

"I'd be lying to you, being a Gooner, if I said it wasn't a great occasion for us."


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50363864

Luxembourg 0-2 Portugal: Holders qualify for Euro 2020 as Ronaldo targets world record

Only Iran legend Ali Daei has scored more international goals than Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to break the world record for men's international goals after scoring his 99th Portugal goal in a 2-0 win over Luxembourg to clinch their place at Euro 2020.

He is 10 behind Iran legend Ali Daei's tally of 109, after his most prolific year for Portugal with 14 goals.

"All records must be broken and I will beat that record," he said.

Bernardo Silva's ball over the top allowed Bruno Fernandes to fire them ahead and Ronaldo scored a late second.

Holders Portugal needed to beat Luxembourg to make sure of a place at next summer's tournament.

Fernando Santos' 2016 winners finished second in Group B, three points clear of Serbia who drew 2-2 against Ukraine.

Ronaldo must wait until the next international break in March for the chance to become just the second male player to reach 100 international goals.

The Juventus forward struck his ninth international hat-trick - and the seventh since he turned 30 - on Thursday against Lithuania to set up the opportunity to hit a century on Sunday.

He says he is not fully fit, having been replaced in Juventus' last two games before the international break.

"I wasn't 100% and I'm still not," he said. "In the last three weeks, I have played at a slightly reduced capacity.

"But when it comes to sacrificing myself for my club and my national team, I do it with pride."


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50160479

Women’s Super League: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Maren Mjelde's penalty proved decisive at Kingsmeadow

Chelsea swiftly regained top spot in the Women's Super League as Maren Mjelde's penalty saw off a resolute Manchester United side in front of a record WSL crowd.

Having been deposed from the summit by Manchester City's 5-0 win over West Ham in the early kick-off, Mjelde's second-half spot-kick ensured that demotion was a brief one.

United vehemently protested against the penalty, convinced Millie Turner had got a touch on the ball when she challenged Fran Kirby, but referee Jack Packman pointed to the spot.

Norway defender Mjelde tucked home to give Chelsea a victory watched by 4,790 spectators at Kingsmeadow - a record attendance for a WSL game held at a non-Premier League stadium.

Chelsea were far from their best and only the woodwork denied United a late equaliser as Blues keeper Ann-Katrin Berger superbly tipped Ella Toone's volley onto the underside of the bar and out.

After a cagey first half devoid of clear-cut chances, Blues ultimately emerged triumphant by converting a purple patch of supremacy around the hour mark.

Scotland international Erin Cuthbert should have fired them ahead as she raced on to a ball over the top of the United defence but steered wide with only keeper Mary Earps to beat.

However, the introduction of England striker Kirby from the bench paid instant dividends as, within a minute, she drew the foul from Turner, who appeared to get a touch on both ball and player.

Earps got a hand to Mjelde's penalty but could not keep it out as Chelsea, who this week added Australia striker Sam Kerr to their attacking options come January, made it five wins from six WSL games.

United, promoted as Championship winners last season, were left to once again rue fine margins, having lost 1-0 to the division's leading three sides - Manchester City, Arsenal and, now, Chelsea.

They were unfortunate not to earn a point when Toone's volley from Jess Sigsworth's cross was diverted on to the bar by Berger, with the rebound hitting the keeper on the back but somehow staying out.


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50363863

Euro 2020 qualifiers: NI captain Steven Davis has ‘no excuses’ for missed penalty

Davis remains on 12 international goals after his penalty miss

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has made no excuses for his missed penalty in their scoreless draw with the Netherlands in Belfast.

The midfielder blasted a spot-kick well over the bar in the 32nd minute of the Euro 2020 qualifier at Windsor Park, but faced a long wait to take it.

Dutch players protested strongly with referee Szymon Marciniak before goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen walked off his line to prolong the delay.

"No excuses from me," said Davis.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill said the protests would have placed doubts in his skipper's mind, but Davis said it made no difference.

"That's all part of the game," continued the Rangers man, who was making his 116th appearance to overtake David Beckham as the UK's most capped international midfielder.

NI manager Michael O'Neill felt the referee could have handled the Dutch protests better

"I didn't feel in my head that any of that affected me. Unfortunately, I just put too much on it.

"I watched clips before the game and I thought he went quite early so the idea was to hit it down the middle and I hit it a little bit too much down the middle.

"It's a huge disappointment because we all wanted that big result and a big scalp to take it into the final game. Unfortunately we couldn't do it."

The draw secured the Netherlands' automatic qualification for next summer's Euro 2020 finals alongside Germany from Group C, while Northern Ireland still have a chance of going through in the play-offs.

O'Neill, who took over as Stoke City boss last week, is set to remain in charge of NI for the play-offs in March but, with the draw likely to send NI away from home, Saturday's match was probably his Windsor Park farewell.

O'Neill and Davis embrace after the Netherlands draw

He stepped on to the pitch to applaud the fans at full-time but quickly went over to put an arm around his forlorn-looking captain.

"Michael didn't say anything to me," added Davis. "We didn't need any words.

"If this was to be Michael's last game at Windsor Park - obviously we don't know where we will be playing in the play-offs - I would have loved to have got that big win for him but unfortunately we missed it.

"It's probably the story of the games against the bigger nations, us not taking our chances. It feels like a missed opportunity."

Northern Ireland complete their Group C campaign in Frankfurt on Tuesday, away to Germany.

"While we are disappointed now we will look back on this match and take a lot of positives from it," Davis added.

"Whatever way the Germany game ends up we will look forward to the play-offs after that and hopefully the draw will be kind to us.

"It will be interesting to see who we get and where we will be playing. It's a quick turnaround in the games if we do win the first one so it is something to look forward to."


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50453327