Liverpool Ladies: Road to The Champions League

 Earlier today The FA announced that due to Arsenal Ladies fielding an unregistered player during their 3-0 league win over us in August, they were to be deducted 3 points. This means Liverpool Ladies and Bristol Academy have both qualified for the 2014/ 2015 UEFA Women’s Champions League ahead of the title showdown on Sunday 29th September.

 Here are 5 key moments from Liverpool’s season that have led to Champions League qualification for the first time in our history:
 Winter Signings
 Liverpool’s winter signings showed a real statement of intent from the club as they invested in many top class players. 
 Just two days after last seasons final day defeat to Doncaster Belles, the club announced the signing of US international Whitney Engen. Engen is a world class central defender and following her move to Liverpool has forced her way into contention for the US Women’s National Team starting 11.
 A week later Liverpool released 10 players and began the rebuild, first signing Engen’s centre back partner-to-be Gemma Bonner from Chelsea and then launching a raid on local rivals Everton. Making the move across Merseyside was England international Fara Williams, Becky Easton, Lucy Bronze and Natasha Dowie
 Over the following months Liverpool captured the talents of European players including Swedish star Louise Fors, Icelandic Katrin Omarsdottir and German duo Corina Schroder and Nicole Rolser.
 Amanda Da Costa and Jess Holbrook completed the summer transformation and Liverpool were ready for a new challenge in the WSL.
 Arsenal Ladies 0 – 4 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool travelled to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium a couple of weeks after the Gunners knocked them out of The FA Cup at Anfield. 
 With the scores level at 0 – 0, Whitney Engen produced a fine goal line clearance to prevent Arsenal taking the lead. Fellow American Amanda Da Costa scored either side of half time, her first a brilliant strike from outside the box after switching the ball onto her left foot. 
 Louise Fors and Natasha Dowie also scored during the second half, causing Arsenal’s first league defeat in almost 2 years and many to question whether Arsenals reign at the top of women’s football was coming to an end. 
 Bristol Academy 3 – 4 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool’s Champions League hopes took a slight hit following the mid-season break, Arsenal appearing to hit form at just the right time and Bristol sat top of the table after beating Everton 3-2 the weekend before.
 Despite having the better chances of the two teams Liverpool fell a goal behind, Nicole Rolser then won a penalty after being pushed in the box which Louise Fors confidently slotted past Siobhan Chamberlain. Rolser herself then scored the equaliser on the brink of half time.
 Katrin Omarsdottir gave Liverpool a 2-goal cushion early in the second half with a thundering strike that went in off the crossbar. Unfortunately Bristol were able to pull the score level, Spanish duo Laura Del Rio and Natalia grabbing a goal each.
 Into the final 10 minutes it was Liverpool’s Captain Fantastic Gemma Bonner who popped up with the crucial winner (and the FAWSL’s August Goal of the Month) to gift the reds those all important 3 points and take us back to the top of the league.
 Doncaster Belles 0 – 9 Liverpool Ladies

 With Arsenal closing in on our goal difference after a couple of tight 4-3 victories for Liverpool, this 9-0 thrashing of the Belles set the goal difference advantage firmly back in Liverpool’s court.
 7-0 up at half time with goals from Gemma Bonner, Louise Fors, a double from Fara Williams and the first of two league hat tricks for leading goal scorer Natasha Dowie. 
 Easing up slightly after the second half, Nicole Rolser added to her tally for the season and summer signing Kate Longhurst scored her first Liverpool goal to complete the rout.
 Liverpool Ladies 4 – 2 Everton Ladies
 A Merseyside derby is always a special occasion, but this victory was extra sweet sending Liverpool into the final game of the season against Bristol knowing a draw or a win would see us crowned Women’s Super League Champions for the first time.
 Natasha Dowie’s superb hat trick and a thundering header from Gemma Bonner secured the 3 points for Liverpool.
 At this point their was still an outside chance that we would not make the Champions League, if on the final day of the season Bristol beat us 2-0 and Arsenal won 5-0 at Everton then Liverpool would finish 3rd in the league and outside of the European spots.
 Today’s news then means that both Liverpool and Bristol are guaranteed Champions League football for 2014/ 15 and the final game of the season will be the title decider.
 Liverpool Ladies vs Bristol Academy will be played at the Select Security Stadium, Widnes (otherwise known as Halton Stadium). Anfield ST holders get free entry to all Ladies home games, alternatively Adult tickets are £5, Concessions £2.50 and children get in free with a paying adult.
 Thanks for reading, it’s been a great season for Liverpool Ladies and no matter what happens on the final day of the season Liverpool need to be congratulated on their fantastic effort and commitment this season.

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