Linköping and Liverpool seek improvement

Martin Sjögren wants Linköpings FC to be more clinical as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit against a Liverpool LFC team Matthew Beard has called on to retain possession.

Liverpool had to do their share of defending in last week's 2-1 win
©Anthony Barker

The weekend may have brought contrasting fortunes for Linköpings FC and Liverpool LFC, but all their thoughts are on the second leg of their tight UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 tie on Thursday.

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Linköping left England last Wednesday 2-1 down and three days later were held 1-1 at lowly AIK Solna to end their hopes of a top-two Damallsvenskan finish and a confirmed 2015/16 European berth. A day later, Liverpool went into the last day of the FA WSL season in third place but a 3-0 defeat of Bristol Academy WFC ensured they retained the title in dramatic circumstances.

However, both teams' focus is now firmly on Linköping Arena and home coach Martin Sjögren feels his side ought not to have been going into the return behind. "I think we had a very good first half, we created four really good chances and we scored one goal, so we have to be more efficient I think, with the chances in the second half too," he told UEFA.com.

"Even if Liverpool were a little bit better than us in the second half we still created a lot of chances too. We need to convert our chances and get more goals."

His opposite number, Matthew Beard, is also seeking an improvement from the first game in Widnes. "I've learnt a lot from our [first-leg] performances, especially where we need to tighten up and tidy up on one or two things, like being caught on the wrong side marking and giving cheap possession away in midfield," he said. "Because they are organised, they are compact, you can't afford to give cheap possession away because they do hit you on the counterattack."

First-leg reaction
First-leg reaction

Since then, of course, there was Sunday's incredible domestic finale. "This is a massive boost for us going into the second leg," Beard said. "Last season, we could celebrate but we can't do that and we've got to be disciplined because we have got such a big game. We want to prolong our season and progress in the Champions League. If we can do that then it will finish off what a fantastic season we have had."

Liverpool goalkeeper Libby Stout was outstanding in the first leg and also impressing was Linköping's American No1, who recovered from injury to start, though was rested on Saturday. "We thought she had a fracture in the leg after the last league game [before the away leg], she had a big hit on the leg," Sjögren said. "But our medical team did a great job and she is fit to play. She is a top keeper."

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