A magnificent performance from the home side wasn’t enough as two late goals from Liverpool stole all three points from Aston Villa.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
European Champions Liverpool travelled to Villa Park this afternoon for the latest Premier League affair to grace B6.
Aston Villa started the stronger of the two sides as Anwar El Ghazi wormed his way through the Liverpool defence before firing at Alisson within thirty-four seconds of the game gone.
There was another strong chance in the ninth minute for Aston Villa – but neither Wesley or Bjorn Engels could rise to meet a crossed ball.
Liverpool’s first dangerous attack of the game didn’t come until the sixteenth minute, as Jordan Henderson floated a ball into the box, allowing Sadio Mane to find himself free in front of goal – but the forward headed just wide.
Tom Heaton was forced into a save a minute later as Vigil van Dijk played a high ball into the box for Mo Salah to fire towards goal with. Villa’s veteran ‘keeper palmed it back into the box before the ball was cleared out.
Aston Villa took the lead in the 20th minute after Sadio Mane conceded consecutive free-kicks, with the second fired into the box for Trézéguet to volley towards Alisson. The ball ricocheted off the Brazilian’s leg and into the back of the Liverpool net.
Come the 26th, Aston Villa had their hearts in their mouths as Nakamba lost the ball before Liverpool’s shot was blocked away for a corner.
Liverpool thought that they had equalised in the 28th as Robert Firmino was flagged offside. VAR checked the goal and ruled it offside, correctly, but by the finest of margins.
Trézéguet had a chance for another volleyed goal in the 35th as Aston Villa broke well on the counter-attack. The Egyptian swung wildly at the far post but skewed his shot which bounced wide.
Sadio Mane was booked for a contrived fall in the box in the 37th minute.
Liverpool had a counter-attack of their own in the 44th minute as Mane broke into the Aston Villa box, slowing the ball down, before finding Mohamed Salah who fired over the bar from a central position.
The home side went in at the break a goal up after four minutes of added time, with all to play for in the second to try and leave Villa Park with all three points.
Liverpool had the first chance of the second half with Mane playing a ball into the box for Firmino to take first time – the ball bounced off Engels’ shoulder and out for a corner.
Before the fifty minute mark, Liverpool were able to register another two shots at the Aston Villa goal – but they were straight at Tom Heaton and simple for the goalkeeper to deal with.
Virgil van Dijk was given a yellow card for tangling with Anwar El Ghazi as the Dutch winger tried to spring a counter-attack.
Tom Heaton was forced into a terrific save with his shoulder as Mane headed from the near post. Aston Villa were able to counter-attack from this point but a through ball from John McGinn was thwarted by sweeper-keeper Alisson.
Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were brought on for Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum in the 65th minute.
The 66th saw three shots from Liverpool that were all blocked, firstly from Bjorn Engels, then Tyrone Mings, then Matt Targett.
Frederic Guilbert was replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady in the 70th minute as the Frenchman trudged off with what looked like a slight knock.
The 72nd minute saw Douglas Luiz replaced by Conor Hourihane.
Aston Villa had the opportunity to finish off Liverpool after a great ball from Nakamba saw Trézéguet ease past Trent Alexander-Arnold, before he cut it back for Hourihane who was forced into passing rather than shooting due to Alisson’s rush off his line.
Anwar El Ghazi was booked in the 81st minute for a foul of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to stop a Liverpool counter-attack on the edge of their box.
Naby Keita replaced Adam Lallana in the 84th minute.
Jonathan Kodjia made his 100th appearance for Aston Villa this evening as he replaced Wesley in the 86th.
Andrew Robertson brought the sides level in the 87th minute as Mane played a ball to the back post, beating El Ghazi to the ball and heading into the roof of the net after a deflection from Tom Heaton.
Trent Alexander-Arnold lined up a free-kick in a central position on the edge of the box after a late challenge from Nakamba on Oxlade-Chamberlain – the ball deflected over for a corner.
And the resulting corner was what broke Aston Villa’s resolve. Alexander-Arnold’s corner found Sadio Mane for an exceptional header that wrong-footed the entire Aston Villa defence and found its way into the far corner of the net.
Heartbreaking for Aston Villa.