Aston Villa 1 - 2 Liverpool
Aston Villa: Trézéguet 21’
Liverpool: Robertson 87’, Mané 90+3’
As expected, Fabinho sits out this match as a precaution due to his four yellow cards. In his place is Adam Lallana in the midfield.
Liverpool start off strong, clearly looking to make a quick impact on the game.
Goal :( - 21’ Trézéguet - However, it’s Aston Villa who strike first through a set piece, with Trézéguet slotting in a right-footed goal in the six-yard box. Martin Atkinson upholds the goal in the VAR room, and Villa go one up on Liverpool.
For Alisson Becker, who had the most clean sheets in the league last season, this is an alarming trend of allowing goals since his return from injury.
Minutes later, Firmino scores on a beautiful cross from Sadio Mané, but Firmino is deemed offside. He is clearly even with the defender, but VAR upholds the linesman’s decision, and Liverpool are 0 for 2 in important VAR decisions in this first half.
Mané gets a yellow card for simulation in the box, which is more or less accurate, but these referees aren’t getting the benefit of the doubt from me today.
It still feels like the equalizer is coming here for Liverpool, as long as the referees allow them to keep it.
They head into halftime trailing 1-0. The midfield has looked, well. It’s looked like they really miss Fabinho in there, honestly. Or maybe Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Something. Hopefully we see a more cohesive group of players come out to challenge in the second half.
The second half kicks off, and I’ve gotta say that I look forward to watching a Liverpool game where the players don’t have to claw their way back from a deficit in the second half. Remember clean sheets? I do, vaguely.
Anyway, daydreaming over, and we’re back with Liverpool making some early but ineffective attacks in Villa’s half. In quick succession, Wijnaldum and Mané both get shots off straight at Heaton.
Oh dear, Liverpool get a good break, but Henderson badly messes it up, passing it straight to a defender. He looks ready to punch his own face in response.
Later still, Heaton does well defending a goal from a tight angle, as Alexander-Arnold passes it to Mané who strikes it well, but can’t beat Heaton.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes into the game along with Divock Origi, and immediately makes an impact. His bullet of a shot is blocked by a defender, which sets off a chain reaction of shots by Liverpool players and blocks by Villa players that somehow doesn’t even lead to a shot on target.
This game hasn’t been great. I know that’s controversial to say. And just in time, Lallana misses a tap-in, sending it reeling several yards off frame.
GOALLLLLLLLLL! 87’ Robertson - FINALLLLLLY, Liverpool get the goal, and it’s through Andy Robertson getting a head on Mané’s brilliant cross and sending it home.
The Reds are desperate for an equalizer as they pepper Villa’s goal with shots that don’t quite land. A groan springs from the Villa fans when five minutes of added time are announced.
Liverpool get a free kick in a good position. Alexander-Arnold send it over the bar, but it garners a corner anddddddd
GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!! 90+ 3’ Mané - Alexander-Arnold picks another assist as he serves up Mané for a ferocious header that puts Liverpool ahead.
You thought they were out, but they found a way to claw back and get the three points at the death. These Reds, what a team, even when they frustrate, it’s beautiful.