AFTER WINS FOR both Arsenal and Manchester City earlier today, Liverpool needed a win to stay in touch at the top of the Premier League. They hosted Aston Villa in the day’s late kick-off.
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Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa
17.21 – Evening all and welcome to our live minute-by-minute coverage of Liverpool v Aston Villa. Kick-off is at 5.30pm which is (checks watch) just a few minutes away.
17.24 – Here’s your team-news. Daniel Sturridge makes his first start since November for the Reds while new loan acquisition Grant Holt is on the bench for Villa.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Toure, Skrtel, Cissokho, Sterling, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sturridge, Suarez. Substitutes: Jones, Alberto, Aspas, Moses, Lucas, Allen, Kelly.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Bertrand, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor. Substitutes: Holt, Helenius, Albrighton, Steer, Luna, Sylla, Gardner.
17.27 – In case you missed them, here are the rest of today’s results.
- Arsenal 2-0 Fulham
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Stoke
- Man City 4-2 Cardiff
- Norwich 1-0 Hull
- West Ham 1-3 Newcastle
- Sunderland 2-2 Southampton
17.29 – The teams are out as You’ll Never Walk Alone rings out around Anfield.
Here’s a stat for you: Aston Villa have scored 20 goals in the league this season; Luis Suarez has 22.
17.30 – KICK OFF: Villa get us underway, attacking the Kop end in this first half.
17.33 – 1 min: A chance inside the opening minute. Benteke dominates Toure in the air and his header sets Gabby Agbonlahor through one-on-one with Mignolet. The keeper stands big and Agbonlahor’s toe poke is past the right post. Great chance for the visitors.
17.35 – 3 mins: Really bright start from the Villa front three. Agbonlahor in particular is looking lively — he flicks the ball off the outside of this boot through to Weimann but Liverpool snuff out the danger.
17.39 – 5 mins — Steven Gerrard’s deep free causes a bit of a kerfuffle in the box and both sides appeal to the referee. Liverpool want a penalty – the ball does come off Bacuna’s hand but it would be very harsh.
17.41 – 8 mins — The Liverpool defence doesn’t look at all composed as Villa test them out in these early stages. A relatively straightforward ball pings around in front of Mignolet’s goal before they eventually hack it clear for a throw.
17.43 – 11 mins – It’s early days yet but Villa are having much the better of the midfield exchanges and that’s giving them their foothold in the match. Liverpool haven’t really had a meaningful attack yet.
17.45 – 13 mins – Benteke and El Ahmadi link well on the edge of the box and again, Liverpool are scrambling to deal with the situation.
17.47 – 16 mins – Oof. The ball breaks to Westwood on the edge of the Liverpool box. He does well to keep his shot down and get it through the thicket of bodies but it’s straight at Mignolet.
That chance developed from wasteful Liverpool play on one of their rare attacks. Coutinho had a chance with the ball at his feet out left but his attempt to pull it back into the middle was telegraphed and cut out by the retreating Weimann.
17.50 – 20 mins — Westwood swings in a cross towards Benteke but it’s a foot or so too high for the rising striker.
17.52 – 21 mins — El Ahmadi lifts Cissokho out in front of the Liverpool dugout and he joins Ciaran Clark in the little black book.
17.53 – 22 mins — First snifter of a chance for Liverpool and it’s no surprise that it comes through one of the dangermen Villa have kept quiet so successfully thus far. Daniel Sturridge steals a yard of space on the edge of the box but his attempt to curl a shot past Guzan is high and always rising.
17.54 – 23 mins — OFF THE POST! Ciaran Clark outmuscles Glen Johnson at a corner and his header cannons back off the butt of the post with Mignolet well beaten. It should be 1-0 to the visitors… and nobody could really argue with that.
17.55 – GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa (Weimann, 25′) That’s been coming – Andy Weimann gives Villa the lead with his second league goal of the season.
It’s relatively simple counter by the visitors. Agbonlahor has more than enough to outpace Kolo Toure in a footrace on the left. He does well to hold up play while reinforcements arrive and then sells Toure a dummy on the byline. Weimann steams in to meet the low cross from three or four yards out. Too easy.
18.00 – 28 mins – Suarez gets a clatter from Bacuna but Liverpool play on as he goes down clutching his head and Sturridge’s shot misses the target. The Villa defence certainly aren’t pussy-footing about Suarez today and so far, he’s getting little sympathy from the ref.
18.02 – 30 mins – Agbonlahor limps back on following some treatment on the sidelines. He took a pretty acrobatic tumble over the advertising hoardings a minute ago and obviously hurt himself in the process.
18.04 – 33 mins — Liverpool cobble together the opening stages of a promising move in midfield but Suarez’s pass from deep is overhit and Sturridge has no chance of getting on the end of it. They’ve been marginally better since the goal with Coutinho now playing in a more central role.
Andreas Weimann celebrates the game’s opening goal (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
18.06 – GOAL! Liverpool 0-2 Aston Villa (Benteke, 36′) Ruh roh, Liverpool are in serious trouble here. Simon Mignolet will have to take a large part, if not all, of the blame for this one. He comes for Agbonlahor’s cross but flaps at it uselessly and Benteke stoops to head it in to the empty net.
Liverpool had shown a few signs of life before that but unless something changes, this one could slip out of reach very quickly.
18.12 – Liverpool owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti are in Anfield tonight – wonder what they make of all this?
Peter Byrne/PA Wire
18.14 – 41 mins – Holy moly, that’s a stinker by Cissokho. For the first time all evening, Suarez picks the ball up deep and is really allowed to run at the Villa back four. He slips the ball to Cissokho who has run on from left back, presumably on the unspoken assumption that he’ll knock it back across the box and not do anything stupid, like take a shot on himself.
That’s exactly what Cissokho does though and he skews it horribly wide. Suarez gives him an earful.
18.16 – There’ll be three minutes of stoppage time at the end of this first half.
18.17 – GOAL! Liverpool 1-2 Aston Villa (Sturridge, 45+2′) Liverpool aren’t done yet. You know that saying about scoring just before half-time? Well, that.
Villa try to hold the line on the edge of their box but it’s unlocked by Suarez, who plays the initial pass, and Henderson whose neat flick sets Sturridge free in behind the back four. He dinks the ball over Guzan and all of a sudden, Anfield believes again.
18.18 – HALF TIME: Liverpool 1-2 Aston Villa
18.22 – Brilliant first half by Villa but that late goal from Sturridge has set us up for a dinger of a second half. I’m off to make a cup of tea first, back in five.
18.34 – SECOND HALF: Here we go against. A change for Liverpool at the break: Lucas on to replace Coutinho, who wasn’t at his best in that first half.
18.36 – 46 mins — The first half-chance falls to Suarez who tries to lift it over Guzan. Too high.
18.37 – In case you thought I was joking about the cup of tea…
18.38 – 48 mins — Ryan Bertrand crunches through Sterling and he becomes the third Villa player in Jon Moss’s book.
More worryingly for Villa, Gabby Agbonlahor is down and it looks like his race might be run.
18.38 – Substitution: Yes, Villa make a change. Grant Holt comes off the bench to make his Villa debut.
18.41 – PENALTY FOR LIVERPOOL! Oh, here we go. Steven Gerrard has been shipping criticism left, right and centre today but it’s one of his trademark passes that turns the game again. He rakes a long ball over the top to Suarez who takes it in his stride before rounding Guzan and going to ground. There’s minimal contact but the keeper dived at Suarez’s feet and that was enough for Jon Moss.
Gerrard to take…
18.41 – GOAL! Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa (Gerrard pen, 53′) And he scores. Guzan guesses correctly but Gerrard tucks it into the bottom right corner as the Kop erupts in celebration.
Liverpool might be a bit fortunate there but after their performance in the first half, they’ll gladly take it.
18.46 – 57 mins – Anfield is rocking and Liverpool are playing with real belief now. The Villa defence opens up as Sturridge runs at them but his low shot is no real danger to Guzan.
Sturridge’s goal on the stroke of half-time gave Liverpool a lifeline (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
18.50 – 60 mins – Superb effort from Fabian Delph. He drags the ball back inside Lucas and then has a pop from 25 yards out. It dips just wide of the right post but Mignolet was scrambling and had it been a foot the other side, I’m not sure he would have got there.
18.51 – Substitution: Another change for Villa: El Ahmadi goes off to be replaced by Sylla.
18.53 – 63 mins — Half a chance for Suarez who snaps one in from 15 yards out. Guzan is well-positioned to make the stop though.
18.55 – 65 mins — SAVE BY GUZAN! Liverpool are within a fingertip of the lead. Suarez and Sturridge combine on the edge of the box to roll the ball to Henderson who keeps his shot low and on target. Guzan needs to stretch and does really well to stop the goal-bound effort.
A warning for Villa and Liverpool are well on top now.
18.56 – SUBSTITUTION: Lucas can’t continue — it looks like a knee injury — and Allen comes on to replace him.
Gerrard levels it up from the penalty spot (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
19.01 – 72 mins — Holt gets his head on the end of Westwood’s corner but it’s a weak effort that sails well wide. A bit of the zip has gone out of the game in the last five minutes.
19.05 – 75 mins — Lovely bit of trickery by Holt. He shows for the short free kick and then plays in Delph inside the box. There’s nobody there when he squares the ball across the face of goal though and Liverpool clear.
19.05 – 77 mins — Suarez stands over a free about 30 yards out. Looks like he’s going to have a crack here…
19.06 – 77 mins – Close. So close. Suarez managed to get the ball up and down but it drifts just wide of the left post.
19.10 – 80 mins — We’ll have a break in play while Westwood is treated. There was a bit of handbags between Sturridge and Bacuna — a shove in the chest is probably the best description — but Jon Moss doesn’t want to take any action against the Liverpool striker.
19.10 – SUBSTITUTION: Luna comes on to replace Bertrand as Villa make their final change.
19.14 – 86 mins – Vital interception by Ciaran Clark as the clock ticks down in Anfield. If he doesn’t put his foot in, Suarez has a simple tap-in from Sturridge’s cutback.
19.16 – 87 mins — Sturridge has three men in the middle but is forced to use his left foot and Guzan is able to cut out the cross.
19.17 – 88 mins – Bacuna doesn’t really fancy retrieving the ball from the Kop and gets a yellow card for time-wasting. I’m sure he won’t mind.
19.18 – 89 mins — Gerrard tries to backheel the ball into Suarez’s path on the edge of the box but it’s a Villa man who gets there first. Tick tock, tick tock…
19.19 – There will be four minutes of added time.
19.21 – 90+2 mins — The gig is nearly up here. Ron Vlaar is Sky Sports’ Man of the Match.
19.22 – 90+3 mins – A snifter for Suarez at the death. He slips his man in the box and then tries to beat Guzan at his near post. The keeper gets an instinctive palm on it though.
19.22 – 30 seconds left. Liverpool in possession.
19.23 – Liverpool throw deep in Villa territory. Last attack surely.
19.23 – FULL TIME: Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa
There isn’t even time for one last attack. Liverpool drop points at home for only the second time this season.
19.28 – Liverpool remain fourth but they’re now eight points behind Arsenal and seven behind City. Merseyside rivals Everton can leapfrog them into the Champions League places if they win at West Brom at Monday evening.
Villa move up to 10th.
19.29 – That’s it from us for this evening. Thanks for reading and for your comments.