Everton Ladies boss Willie Kirk saluted a “fantastic performance” after the Blue Girls rounded off their Continental Cup campaign with a convincing 3-1 Merseyside derby victory at Prenton Park.
All the goals came in a frenetic first-half, with Chaney Boye-Hlorkah, Simone Magill and Elise Hughes netting for Blue Girls.
Everton approached the game knowing they could no longer qualify for the next stage of the competition but delivered a performance rich in desire, intensity and quality.
The victory was the Toffees’ second over Liverpool in just two weeks, after Kirk’s side overcame their city rivals 2-1 at Southport in a WSL clash.
“It was a fantastic performance,” Kirk said. “It has been a fantastic and tiring two and a half weeks since I joined the Club.
“The girls have had one day off in that time and the energy they showed today was brilliant.
“We spoke about standards, in terms of what we want and building the foundations for success, and today’s standards were fantastic in terms of work rate, attitudes, selflessness. It was brilliant to watch.
“The first half was terrific and the second was really professional.”
It was the perfect start for Everton as Boye-Hlorkah opened the scoring, picking up on a loose ball from Taylor Hinds’ cross before curling the ball into the far corner.
It could have been 2-0 shortly after but Elise Hughes could not keep her shot down.
The Toffees did not have to wait long to double their lead, though. Kelly whipped in another brilliant cross and Simone Magill smashed home a volley from eight yards.
Liverpool responded with a volley of their own only a few minutes later to halve the deficit, Niamh Fahey firing past Kirstie Levell.
But on 20 minutes, Everton restored their two-goal advantage. After fantastic work down the right-hand side by Chloe Kelly, the winger fired in a pinpoint cross to find the head of Hughes. Hughes, on her first start for the Club, crashed her header off the post but was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Boye-Hlorkah had an opportunity to make it four just before the break but lashed fractions over, and 3-1 was how it stayed going into half-time.
After the break, Everton continued where they had left off, pressing high and passing the ball around with composure.
Just three minutes into the second period, Fran Kitching made an excellent save to keep out a Boye-Hlorkah effort from almost 30 yards.
Dominique Bruinenberg replaced Hughes with 20 minutes to go and almost made an instant impact with a long-range shot going just over the bar.
Liverpool did create chances of their own, the best falling to Yana Daniels after she pinched the ball from the Everton defence before hitting the bar.
In a day laden with positives for the Blue Girls, there was cause for concern for defender Faye Bryson as she stayed down with a thigh injury after a strong 50/50 challenge 15 minutes from time.
Everton had chances to make it four in the final minutes. First, a last-ditch challenge denied Angharad James before Claudia Walker’s cross agonisingly evaded Kelly.
But the Blues saw out the game comfortably – and boss Kirk was eager to praise his players’ attitude and application.
“We came out and took a hold of the game, it set us up for a fantastic display,” he said. “There have been a lot of good times in this two and a half weeks.
“There is a togetherness and we are helping and challenging each other on the pitch.”