Liverpool 1 - 1 Aston Villa
Liverpool: Firmino 89’
Aston Villa: Ramsey 25’
It’s Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah, and Luis Díaz up front, with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino on the bench. Expect to see Firmino and James Milner make appearances to get their rightful send offs from the club that has come to adore them over the last eight seasons. Jürgen Klopp begins his two game touchline ban up in the stands as well.
Roberto Firmino’s song rang out around the Anfield from the moment the starting whistle blew.
Liverpool came out swinging, clearly looking to make something happen early on what looks like a lovely day in Liverpool.
Five minutes in, Virgil van Dijk collided with Ollie Watkins, but thankfully both looked to be alright, and after a brief pause, the game resumed.
As the game ticked on, there was it was pretty uninspiring stuff from both sides. It looked like both teams were ready for the end of the season. Some danger came in the 20th minute when Ibrahima Konaté was deemed to have fouled Watkins in the box. The referee gave a penalty, but Watkins’ shot was wide of Alisson’s goal, so the Reds were let off.
That good luck wouldn’t last forever, as another Villa attack led Douglas Luis sending a cross in for Jacob Ramsey to send into the net. With Liverpool behind by a goal and Manchester United, in their game against Bournemouth, ahead by a goal, things weren’t looking great for Liverpool’s top four chances after 25 minutes.
After the last run of good performances, this return to midseason form shown today was a massive letdown. Aston Villa are wasting as much time as possible, content to ride their one goal lead all the way until the final whistle.
Alisson intervenes to avoid Ramsey picked up a brace when he got his hand on a tricky shot.
Near the stroke of half time, Tyrone Mings makes a reckless challenge, landing a foot full of studs into Gakpo’s chest. Mings somehow managed to avoid a red card after a VAR check, and Liverpool wasted the resulting free kick.
The first half ended 1-0 to Aston Villa. If results stayed the same, Liverpool will officially be mathematically disqualified from the top four.
The second half began in the same frustrating way that the first half ended. At least this time, they’re playing towards the Kop.
Liverpool have had one shot on goal in this game, and while Gakpo made it level in the 56th minute, the goal was called offside. VAR is not a Liverpool supporter today.
On 64 minutes, Liverpool take advantage in a stop to the game to substitute in Diogo Jota for Curtis Jones. We’re still waiting to see Firmino and Milner get introduced. At this point, it’s the only thing that kept me watching.
Finally, at 71 minutes in, the triple change of Firmino for Luis Díaz, Jordan Henderson for James Milner, and Kostas Tsimikas for Andy Robertson. There was an instant reaction from the crowd and the team on the pitch. Trent Alexander-Arnold got a shot off after getting set up by Gakpo, but it was stopped by the Aston Villa keeper. who had very little to do otherwise.
And there it is, just like we all knew it would be: Salah serves up Firmino for what may be his last goal as a Liverpool player. 10 extra minutes of stoppage tacked on plus the goal has the team and the crowd properly revved up.
A series of corners kept Liverpool hunting in front of the Aston Villa goal. Tsimikas’ corner delivery made me wish Klopp hadn’t removed Robertson earlier. They’re not quite enough to get the game winner that they’re looking for.
Bobby did us one last favor in the end. The goal was good, but not quite enough to get the three points. In terms of a sending off though, it was a lovely reminder of all Liverpool’s crazy Brazilian genius has done for them over these years. Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations are down but not quite out after snatching a point from the jaws of defeat.