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Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool
17.19 – Hello, and welcome to this evening’s liveblog of the game between Villa and Liverpool.
We’ll have the team lineups for you imminently.
17.22 – Here’s Jamie Redknapp’s latest gem:
“He was literally putting out fires all over the pitch.”
17.26 – The team news is out, and it’s not great news for Ireland international Ciaran Clark. Stephen Ireland, Shay Given and Enda Stevens are also nowhere to be seen, though that’s no big surprise.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Okore, Luna, Bacuna, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor. Subs: Clark, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Steer, Herd, Sylla, Tonev.
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Johnson, Toure, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Aspas, Coutinho, Sturridge. Subs: Cissokho, Brad Jones, Alberto, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Wisdom.
17.31 – We’re underway…
17.35 – Aspas does well to beat Villa’s offside trap, but his cross is deflected into the arms of Guzan.
Good start from Liverpool…
17.41 – Liverpool controlling possession in the opening stages but they haven’t really threatened thus far.
Villa look very compact at the moment and are employing a similar style to the one they deployed at the Emirates last week.
17.47 – Still a quiet enough opening – Coutinho has just curled a shot well wide.
Down the other end, Benteke needs to hold the ball up better if Villa are to make any headway in attack.
17.51 – GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL!
17.54 – The Villa defence fails to deal with a ball that is swept across the box to Daniel Sturridge.
The young striker then shows great composure to take the ball round Guzan and smash it into the roof of the net.
17.57 – ‘Literally’ watch:
NBC co-commentator Lee Dixon says Aston Villa “literally haven’t had any possession of the ball”.
18.03 – Villa are starting to adopt a slightly more ambitious approach and get more bodies forward.
Agbonlahor has flashed a shot just wide.
18.09 – Here’s a look at that Sturridge goal:
YouTube credit: Jakovljeviic96Serbia
18.12 – Villa are really starting to come into this game now.
Following a corner, the ball falls to Benteke at the edge of the box, and the striker’s swift turn and shot forces Mignolet to make a good save.
18.15 – Villa are getting closer.
Weimann’s shot from the edge of the area deflects narrowly over the bar, as half-time approaches.
18.18 – Half-time: Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool
18.27 – So Liverpool lead thanks to Sturridge’s moment of magic.
The visitors were well worth their lead, having adopted a far more adventurous approach than their opponents initially, dominating possession in the process.
Nevertheless, Villa showed signs of life towards the end of that first half, and went close once or twice – a reminder to Liverpool, if any were needed, that this game is far from won just yet.
18.32 – And the second half has begun…
18.35 – Good ball in from Lowton that’s well cleared by Toure.
Villa then undermine their purposeful start to the second half by committing a foul throw.
18.41 – Sturridge is looking dangerous again. His cross is well cut out by Ron Vlaar.
Shortly thereafter, Steven Gerrard swings in a threatening cross, but the whistle is blown for a foul on Guzan.
18.46 – Villa continue to press, but currently seem to lack that bit of class in the final third needed to make a breakthrough.
Liverpool have also threatened sporadically but are having it far less their own way in this half.
18.50 – Lowton has just been booked for clattering into Coutinho.
The Brazilian has shown some nice touches today, but still has not been as prominent as Liverpool fans would like.
18.53 – Lowton has been replaced by El Ahmadi – ostensibly an attacking substitution for Villa.
18.56 – Liverpool, in turn, make what appears to be a defensive substitution.
Cissokho has replaced the somewhat disappointing Aspas.
18.59 – Benteke rises above Toure with a characteristic header from a corner that goes just wide.
Of the two sides, Villa are now undoubtedly looking the more likely to score.
19.03 – Toure’s header only finds Agbonlahor, whose subsequent volley goes inches wide.
Roughly 15 minutes remain…
(Christian Benteke rues a missed chance – Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport)
19.08 – Shouts for a penalty as Benteke goes down as he attempts to head the ball in from a corner.
Replays show that the contact was only minimal though.
19.11 – According to Sky, Villa have had 75% of the possession in the last ten minutes.
It’s such a contrast to the way the hosts approached most of the first half, and they’ll surely feel they merit something from the game, given how well they’ve come back into it of late.
19.14 – Would they have taken it if offered at the start of the season though?
19.15 – Benteke is played through, but his powerful strike is well saved by Mignolet.
It looks like Paul Lambert’s men are destined to leave this game empty handed.
19.19 – Controversial… Guzan appears to take down Sturridge in the box, but the ref waves play on, suggesting he got the ball.
Even from replays, it’s difficult make a definitive judgement on whether it was the right or wrong decision.
19.21 – FULL-TIME: ASTON VILLA 0-1 LIVERPOOL
19.31 – So that’s it. Liverpool emerge with a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
Villa will feel they deserved more after a strong finish to the game, however they ultimately paid the price for allowing Liverpool to take initiative early on.
Brendan Rodgers’ side weren’t always pretty to watch, but a dominant first-half display, coupled with some resolute defending late on, was ultimately enough to see them through.
Consequently, the Reds will be extremely encouraged by their start to the season, maintaining their 100% record against tough opposition today.
Villa, meanwhile, surely won’t be overly concerned. In fact, if you offered them three points from their first three games, they may well have taken it given the quality of the opposition. Moreover, despite losing to Chelsea and now Liverpool, their performances were certainly good enough to warrant a point on both occasions.
19.36 – Right, thanks all from me.
Thanks for reading and commenting – see you next time!