Liverpool beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa 1 – 0

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Liverpool beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa 1 – 0. Former Liverpool captain Gerrard was, predictably, given a rapturous reception after playing 710 games and scoring 186 goals for the club while winning the Champions League, FA Cup, Uefa Cup and League Cup.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard made a losing return to Anfield as Liverpool continued their pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City with a hard-earned victory.

Gerrard’s response to the adulation was low-key as his Villa side, who had won three of his first four games in charge since arriving from Rangers, set about making life difficult for Liverpool and frustrating the Kop.

Villa achieved their aim, aided by fine saves from keeper Emi Martinez, until they were finally undone in the 67th minute when Tyrone Mings bundled Mohamed Salah to the ground, the Egyptian scoring the spot-kick in emphatic fashion, the win leaving Liverpool in second place a point behind Manchester City.

Substitute Danny Ings almost took advantage of a late mix-up between Liverpool keeper Alisson and Joel Matip which left Villa fans demanding a penalty in vain, but Jurgen Klopp’s side closed out the win.

Gerrard suffered Anfield disappointment
Gerrard made it clear he wanted points not sentiment on his emotional Anfield return and his body language from the start made that very plain.

He walked out on to turf he graced for so long to a predictable reaction but his first move was to illustrate exactly where his loyalties lay, applauding Villa’s fans warmly before giving a polite wave in the direction of the Kop.

And his Villa side, while short on attacking ideas, made Liverpool work relentlessly for any rewards, defending with resilience and assisted by a top-class keeper in Martinez before Mings allowed Salah the one moment he needed to escape before he brought him down.

Martinez went the right way but there were no stopping Salah’s penalty as Anfield roared its relief.

Villa then started pushing and Ings almost wrote another Anfield old boy story line when he just failed to take advantage of that Liverpool defensive mix-up in the closing minutes.

Gerrard will be disappointed his side could not maintain the defensive discipline that kept Liverpool at arm’s length for so long. Villa also struggled to create any attacking impetus until it was too late, when they briefly threatened to snatch an unlikely point.

He will be satisfied, however, with many aspects of Villa’s performance. It was not the winning Anfield return he wanted but his impact can be seen already and he has raw materials to work with.

Source – BBC News

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