Harding hat-trick sinks Sunderland after Staniforth stunner
A Natasha Harding hat-trick saw Liverpool move through the gears in the second half to claim an impressive victory over Sunderland at Mariners Park.
Lucy Staniforth got the home side off to a flier with rocket of a shot that two keepers would struggle to keep out, let alone Siobhan Chamberlain on her own, as it thundered in off the bar.
The PA system was still announcing the goal when Liverpool equalised seconds later – Harding getting her first before Alex Greenwood put Liverpool in front in the second half.
The home side fought to get back into the game but the day was to be Harding’s as the prolific forward got her second and third to put the game to bed.
The match had started with plenty of endeavour and exploded into life with Staniforth’s screamer in the tenth minute, before Harding found a way through the Sunderland defence and rounded keeper Rachael Laws a minute later.
Dominique Bruinenberg fired straight at Chamberlain in the 48th minute before Zaneta Wyne’s effort from six yards forced a fine save from the Liverpool stopper as the second half got off to a more entertaining start.
Alex Greenwood’s goal then put Liverpool ahead on 58 minutes - her corner from the left finding its way in as it swirled in the blustery conditions.
The visitors put clear daylight between themselves and their hosts through Harding’s 61st minute goal that left Laws with no chance.
There was still time for the striker to claim her hat-trick, shooting across goal and into the far corner with four minutes to go as Liverpool secured a comfortable win.
Sunderland captain Staniforth said: “It is something we are not happy with, we could have gone in 3-0 or 4-0 up but we didn’t take our chances.
“It’s not been a problem for us this year but it is something we are looking to improve upon, scoring in front of goal.
“Myself, I should have taken more shots and I don’t know why I didn’t - I’m really frustrated with that.
“To be honest, we created quite a few chances in this game and the fact we’ve not put them away is disappointing.
“We do have good finishers in the team - Keira Ramshaw puts them away for fun in training - Dom Bruinenberg has got a great strike on her and it’s really disappointing that we haven’t managed to score more than we have.
“The scoreline doesn’t reflect how we performed.”
Sunderland: Laws, Sharp, Stewart, Williams, Sjoman, Lipka, Wyne, Staniforth, Bruinenberg (Lambert 76), Joice (Koren 65), Ramshaw. Subs not used: Brown, Dodds, Stonehouse, Young.
Liverpool: Chamberlain, Murray (Harris 90), Bonner, Stoner, Greenwood, Ingle, Weir (Hodson 82), England, Clarke (Johnson 90), Charles, Harding. Substitutes: Subs not used: Flaherty, Fletcher, Coombs
Ref: John Matthews Att: 429