Liverpool FC Women played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Aston Villa Women on Sunday.
With Katie Stengel’s double sandwiching a goal from Natasha Dowie, the Reds led twice in their penultimate Barclays Women’s Super League game of the season after falling behind early on at Villa Park.
Stengel and Dowie turned the match on its head after Kirsty Hanson’s opener, but Rachel Daly levelled for Villa on the stroke of half-time.
A second header of the afternoon by Stengel put Matt Beard’s team – for whom Leanne Kiernan returned as a second-half substitute – back ahead after the interval, before Hanson earned a share of the spoils for the hosts.
Villa took the lead with just eight minutes played when Hanson evaded several challenges from Liverpool defenders before getting away a shot that found the bottom corner.
The Reds responded strongly and home goalkeeper Hannah Hampton made saves in quick succession to deny Dowie and Missy Bo Kearns, but only a goalline clearance by Jasmine Matthews prevented Daly from doubling the hosts’ advantage.
Hampton was again called upon to thwart Taylor Hinds at the conclusion of an excellent counter-attack from the visitors, though the Villa stopper was helpless to prevent Stengel from equalising.
Kearns spread the play to Emma Koivisto and, after her cross was only partially cleared, a miscued strike from Hinds was opportunistically nodded in by Liverpool’s top scorer from close range.
Beard’s side were buoyant and netted again just three minutes later.
Koivisto and Hinds were again involved, the latter this time poking the ball into Dowie’s path following another delivery from the Finland international and the striker then finishing high into the net.
However, Villa got themselves back on terms in first-half stoppage time when Daly struck home Simone Magill’s cut-back.
Beard introduced Shanice van de Sanden at the break and then made a triple substitution just before the hour; a change that included Kiernan, the forward making her first appearance since suffering an ankle injury on the opening day of the season.
Kiernan’s first involvement was to shoot wide from 25 yards but, soon after, Liverpool retook the lead as Van de Sanden’s pinpoint, drilled cross was glanced in expertly by Stengel.
Daly hit the crossbar with a header as Villa sought a reply that would arrive with 20 minutes remaining when Hanson’s hit from outside the area squirmed its way through the grasp of Faye Kirby.
Kirby quickly made amends by racing off her line to get the better of Daly in a one-on-one, before Rhiannon Roberts blocked a goal-bound header as Villa cranked up the pressure.
But Liverpool showed impressive resilience and even finished the contest on top, with Van de Sanden so nearly lofting home a long-range, stoppage-time winner, only for Hampton to claw the ball to safety.
Liverpool FC Women: Kirby, Koivisto (Roberts, 58), Bonner, Matthews, Fahey (Van de Sanden, 46), Hinds, Nagano, Kearns, Taylor (Lundgaard, 59), Dowie (Kiernan, 58), Stengel.
Unused subs: Laws, Cumings, Robe, Humphrey, Daniels.