WSL: Liverpool boss surprised to pip Chelsea & Birmingham

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Matt Beard and Gemma Bonner
Matt Beard has led Liverpool to a second successive WSL title

Liverpool manager Matt Beard said he was surprised Chelsea missed the chance to win the Women's Super League, allowing the Reds to take the title.

Needing only a point, Chelsea were beaten by Manchester City and, with Birmingham drawing against Notts County, Liverpool retained their crown by beating Bristol Academy 3-0.

"I went into the afternoon feeling Chelsea would do it," said Beard.

"It was surreal with the way things went in every match."

Liverpool began the day three points behind Chelsea, knowing they could only take the title on goal difference if Chelsea lost and Birmingham failed to win.

Women's Super League - top three
Liverpool Ladies14752926
Chelsea Ladies14824726
Birmingham Ladies14743625

Doing their job with victory, Liverpool would still have been denied if either Chelsea or Birmingham found a goal in the closing stages.

As it was, Chelsea were beaten 2-1 and Birmingham could only manage a 2-2 draw.

Former Chelsea manager Beard added: "I didn't want to know how the other games were going, but our fans kept shouting out the other scores.

Liverpool win dramatic WSL title

"Our game finished first and we were able to watch Chelsea finish theirs on the TV, and it was just fantastic for us when that final whistle went at Manchester City.

"I'm so proud of the girls for the way they finished the season off. We were magnificent today, and Chelsea didn't do it again in a big game.

"That's happened to them a number of times this season, whereas we've always delivered on the big occasions."

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes, who took over after Beard had left for Liverpool two years ago, has led this season's title challenge after her team finished second from bottom last term.

"We're gutted," said Hayes, the only female boss in the league. "The girls are devastated and there's no consoling them at the moment.

"We took too long to get going today, we were nervy and gave away two sloppy goals. We were much better in the second half but we just couldn't get over the line.

Former England forward Sue Smith on BBC Radio 5 live
"Chelsea must be so disappointed. The championship was in their hands. Was the pressure a bit too much? Maybe so, because a lot of the players haven't been in this situation before. An extraordinary end to the season, and that's fantastic, because those of us who love women's football know this is exactly what we wanted."

"We're devastated to miss out on the title, but finishing second means we're in the Champions League next season and that's a monumental achievement for the club."

Birmingham missed several chances, including a penalty, as they searched in vain for a third goal that would have given them the title.

"It was so frustrating," said manager David Parker. "One goal has been the difference between us winning the league and missing out on a Champions League place.

"We've done really well this season though, there are far more positives than negatives we can take from it and we'll come back stronger next year."