Against all odds, Aston Villa demolished Champions Liverpool tonight in a NINE GOAL thriller at Villa Park.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa hosted Premier League champions Liverpool at Villa Park this evening in their third game of the new season.
The home side started brightly, pressing heavy and passing crisply to try and break the famous ‘heavy metal’ Gegenpress of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Within four minutes, Dean Smith’s men were 1-0 up. Adrian played a poor pass under pressure from Ollie Watkins with his weak foot, which Jack Grealish capitalised on, pulling Joe Gomez out of position before squaring the ball to Watkins who scored his first goal of the Premier League season.
Barkley had the opportunity to grab a debut goal and put Aston Villa 2-0 up just three minutes later as Jack Grealish drew defenders towards him in the box before nutmegging Van Dijk. Barkley found the ball but squandered his shot, slicing it wide of the post from around ten yards.
Emiliano Martinez was forced into a save around the quarter of an hour mark, the first task required of the goalkeeper, before Liverpool had shouts for a potential penalty as John McGinn shielded the ball and tripped Salah when doing so. Neither the referee or VAR agreed with Liverpool’s claims, however.
A few minutes later there was a heart-in-mouth moment as Martinez played a poor pass to Mings, which resulted in Firmino picking up the loose ball. Liverpool had a few opportunities to fire towards goal, but a scramble ensued and Aston Villa were able to get the ball away. Martinez denied Firmino at the near post just minutes later.
Watkins bagged a brace in the 22nd minute as he linked well with Grealish down the left before racing into the box and cutting inside, pulling the ball onto his strong foot and firing into the top-right-corner of the net past Adrian.
Martinez tipped a neat Jota lob over the bar five minutes later, which saw the goalkeeper back pedalling and producing an acrobatic backwards dive to ensure the ball remained out of the net.
Ross Barkley had another opportunity just after the half an hour mark as Jack Grealish threaded a ball through for the midfielder, who held off van Dijk well at the near post before poking his shot just narrowly wide of the far post.
Mo Salah pulled a goal back a minute later as Douglas Luiz found himself out of position with Jota able to press into the Villa box, before the ball eventually fell into the path of the Egyptian at the far post, where his thunderous strike was almost impossible to save for Martinez.
Barkley forced Adrian into a save with his feet almost immediately after after he beat Liverpool’s offside trap. The Evertonian new-boy at Villa Park took the corner which was headed out by Gomez and landed at the feet of John McGinn, who hit it first time with his left. The ball bounced off Van Dijk’s legs and flummoxed Adrian who was rooted to the spot. Three-one Villa!
Aston Villa scored a fourth as Barkley took a deep free-kick into the Liverpool box, which landed at the feet of Trezeguet at the near post – who played a perfect cross into the path of Ollie Watkins, who headed into the net for a perfect hat-trick.
Martinez was forced into another save at his near post as Andy Robertson fired an attempt from the left as the half went into three minutes of added time.
Liverpool made a change to start the second half, replacing Naby Keita with Takumi Minamino.
Ross Barkley’s efforts did not go to waste come ten minutes into the second half as the midfielder struck from outside of the box with his left foot. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s boot provided a necessary deflection, which put the ball into the top right corner of the net and outside of Adrian’s reach.
Mohammed Salah grabbed his second on the hour mark as lackadaisical midfield defending saw Firmino collect the ball and play it into the path of the Egyptian forward. Directly after, Klopp replaced Joe Gomez with Curtis Jones – with Fabinho dropping into defence.
Aston Villa were certainly getting the rub of the green in tonight’s game. Jack Grealish found the ball on the left, before cutting onto his right and firing – with the ball bouncing off Fabinho’s chest and into the net past a rooted Adrian.
Ollie Watkins very nearly grabbed himself a fourth in the 72nd minute, finding himself in acres of space following Trezeguet’s pass – but Adrian saved well with his feet.
It was seven just minutes later, as Jack Grealish found himself in the exact position that Watkins did – but the captain made no mistake and offered a chipped shot that Adrian couldn’t help but palm into his net.
With ten minutes remaining of normal time, Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz were replaced by Marvelous Nakamba and Ahmed Elmohamady.
In the 85th, Ollie Watkins could have made it eight for Aston Villa as he met Trezeguet’s cross with an open net to fire at as Adrian misjudged the path of the ball, but the forward’s shot rattled the crossbar and went back into the box. Two minutes later, and Bertrand Traore replaced the hard-working Trezeguet.
Aston Villa continued to push for more – but the game ended as that. And what a game it was!