Liverpool looked to be staring down the barrel of a first Premier League defeat of the season with five minutes to go at Villa Park. Instead, the resilient Reds continued their unbeaten start to the season, fighting back to win 2-1 at the death.
Trezeguet’s goal saw the home side lead for virtually the whole of the game, but late, late strikes from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mané saw the Reds flip the game on its head and leave Birmingham with all three points.
Jürgen Klopp made one change from the side that beat Tottenham in the league last weekend, with Adam Lallana coming in to replace Fabinho. The Brazilian stalwart, who is one booking away from a suspension, was rested by Klopp ahead of game against Manchester City.
The Reds didn’t start the game in top gear and, much like against Tottenham, could have found themselves behind within the opening 60 seconds after Anwar El Ghazi saw the ball drop to his feet inside the box. Fortunately for Liverpool, however, the Dutchman couldn’t pick his spot and saw the ball canon straight at Alisson.
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Although the mistake didn’t wake the Reds up completely, Klopp’s men quickly began to dominate possession and put some strain on the Villa defence with both Mané and Salah coming close in quick succession before the 20th minute.
Despite the Reds dominating possession, they saw themselves go behind in the 21st through Villa’s own Egyptian winger, Trezeguet. A ball into the box from John McGinn following a free-kick bypassed all of Liverpool’s defenders, floating all the way to the back post where the Egyptian crept in and volleyed it past Alisson. 1-0 to the home side.
The Reds looked like they had responded quickly and got themselves back into the match thanks to Roberto Firmino. However, a quick VAR check ruled the Brazilian to be millimetres offside and the goal was controversially scratched off.
The disallowed goal seemed to deflate Klopp’s men as their attacking play slumped towards the end of the half. Minutes before half time, however, a classic counter-attack saw Salah spurn a golden opportunity to get Liverpool back into the match. Mané fed a ball towards the penalty spot for Salah, who arrived at an angle before blasting his attempt wide and into the stands.
As Jonathan Moss blew for half-time, the Reds made their way down the tunnel maybe feeling somewhat hard-done-by as VAR yet again made its way into the headlines.
Following a less than stellar performance in the first half, Liverpool upped their game in the second and began to pin villa back and test Tom Heaton. With this being said, the Villa goalkeeper was more than up the challenge with Liverpool’s efforts being far from clear cut as the home defence stood firm.
With his side seemingly running out of ideas, Klopp turned to his bench and introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi for the under-performing Salah and Gini Wijnaldum.
Oxlade-Chamberlain almost had an instant impact for Klopp as he crept into the box intent on testing Aston Villa’s resolve. The home side stood firm as they bravely blocked three attempts and crowded out the Liverpool attack.
As game moved into the final 20 minutes it began to look like the result was written in the stars. The Reds’ latest effort saw Firmino pull the ball back towards the penalty spot for Lallana to run onto. With the goal at his mercy, the Englishman miss-hit the ball and saw his effort slice away wide off target.
The Reds found themselves fortunate to not go further behind after Alexander-Arnold misjudged a long ball which released Trezeguet. The Egyptian took on Lovren before sliding the ball into the path of Conor Hourihane who attempted to play it across goal. With the goal gaping, Virgil van Dijk appeared out of nowhere to save Liverpool and clear the ball from danger.
Villa continued to hold firm defensively but the endless waves of Liverpool pressure eventually eroded the defensive wall away through the unlikeliest of sources.
As Villa tired they began to leave slow in their pressing and that became their undoing as Mané was allowed time on the ball out wide. The Senegalese attacker sent a ball arrow king towards the back post where Andy Robertson crept in to level it for the league leader.
In the 87th minute Liverpool were level and searching for the winner and they grabbed it in the last minutes of injury time. A 94th-minute near-post corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold found Mané who headed it into the Villa net. The Senegalese attacker lost his marker and flicked the ball across goal, leaving Heaton no chance as it nestled into the corner of the net.
Liverpool held on for the final few seconds to claim the three points. Villa can feel somewhat hard done to after they put in an admirable defensive performance, however, Liverpool’s continuous waves of pressure eventually saw the home wall crumble.
The Reds now turn their attention to the Champions League where they host Genk at Anfield on Tuesday before welcoming Manchester City on Sunday, in what could be a title-deciding fixture.