Katie Stengel scored two penalties on her Women’s Super League debut as defending champions Chelsea were stunned by newly promoted Liverpool.
Chelsea got on the scoresheet early when Fran Kirby converted from the penalty spot after Gilly Flaherty collided with Guro Reiten.
Sam Kerr saw an effort ruled offside while Liverpool capitalised on their second-half chances. Liverpool’s win ended the Blues’ 13-game unbeaten streak, while Liverpool celebrated their return to the top flight in front of a record 3,006 fans at Prenton Park.
Former Chelsea defender Flaherty got her new side off to an unfortunate start, mistiming her clearance and instead making contact with Reiten to concede a penalty inside the first minute. Kirby stepped up to the spot and sent Rachael Laws the wrong way inside three minutes, her 29th goal in her last 31 starts for the club.
Emma Koivisto had a chance to level soon after when Chelsea keeper Zecira Musovic failed to hold on to a Ceri Holland effort and the Finnish defender pounced on the rebound but sent her effort over the bar.
The defending champions dominated throughout the opening exchanges with Lauren James, who earned her first England cap this month, looking especially bright down the right wing.
They looked to double their advantage at the 20-minute mark when Kirby sent a long ball over the top to Kerr, who easily fired past Laws from 18 yards but her volleyed effort was immediately ruled offside.
Matt Beard’s side were dealt a blow when Leanne Kiernan was forced off, supported by two staff, after she was brought down by Chelsea debutant Kadeisha Buchanan. But Liverpool got the breakthrough they were looking for when Flaherty’s flick-on from a throw-in caught Millie Bright’s arm and was called for handball, and Stengel coolly scored her first WSL goal.
Five minutes from time, Stengel broke down the right and into the area, pursued by Buchanan who brought her down with a sliding tackle to set up Stengel for her game-winning second penalty.