A sub-par Liverpool scored twice in the final three minutes to overcome Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park on Saturday in the Premier League, with Sadio Mane heading home a last-gasp winner.
The game started very frantically, with both teams looking open. There were numerous chances for both sides in the opening exchanges, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane coming the closest as he saw his header float just wide. Villa Park erupted, however, as Trezeguet drove home from a John McGinn cross with 21 minutes on the clock. It went to VAR, but the goal stood and Villa had the lead.
A matter of moments later and the Reds had seemingly found an equaliser through Roberto Firmino. However, the goal was ruled out for offside by the linesman, and once again, it went to VAR. It was a very close call, with the Brazilian right on the last man, but the linesman’s decision stood – no goal.
The away side continued to probe and the shot count was constantly rising, but it appeared as though Jurgen Klopp’s men were going to slump to their first league defeat of the season. However, with on 87 minutes on the clock, Andy Robertson popped up at the back post to head home from a wonderful Sadio Mane cross.
There was still time, however, and Liverpool knew this. The home crowd grew anxious as they saw their home side come under a great deal of pressure. With seconds remaining, Mane nodded home from a corner to seal the win and break Aston Villa hearts.
Here’s the breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
Villa came flying out of the blocks and looked to take the game to the league leaders. And they were rewarded for this quick start when Trezeguet gave the home side the lead. Although they were perhaps somewhat fortuitous to see Firmino’s strike ruled out for offside, it could be argued that they earned the luck through the spirit and desire of their performance.
Each Villa player never gave their opponents a seconds rest, constantly harrying and chasing down. This rattled Jurgen Klopp’s men and forced them into a number of careless mistakes. However, the pressure eventually told and they conceded late and hearts were then broken as Mane nodded in the winner.
It was a display filled with positives, but Smith will be disappointed with the late, late goals – especially considering the fact that this isn’t the first time this has happened.
STAR PLAYER – Each and every Villa defender was sensational in their work, putting their bodies in front of anything that came their way. It was all perfectly encapsulated when three blocks were made consecutively, one immediately after the other.
However, it is Trezeguet who was the star performer. It was his goal that opened the scoring and gave the home side something to hold onto. But, the goal aside, his performance set the tone for the rest of the team, acting as one of the first lines of the press.
With Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold constantly looking to get forward, Trezeguet was excellent in tracking his runs and providing cover for Matt Targett. It was a fantastic performance by the Egyptian.
Key Talking Point
Jurgen Klopp opted to rest Fabinho as the defensive midfielder is one caution away from a suspension. As a result, the manager thought it best to drop him to the bench with next week’s top of the table clash with Manchester City in mind.
However, this decision proved very detrimental on the side, with the Reds constantly left exposed in the early exchanges. Jordan Henderson, the man to move into the deep-lying midfield role, was caught out and made two sloppy mistakes inside the opening 20 minutes. This gave the home side the confidence they needed and took advantage of some woeful marking to move into the lead after 21 minutes.
With Klopp deciding to rest Fabinho, many would have expected Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be the man to come into the side, as a result of his fine form in recent times. However, it was Adam Lallana who came into the side, and the Englishman struggled to impose himself on the game.
Liverpool had chance after chance in the second half, but they appeared like they wouldn’t find a way through a resolute Aston Villa defence. That was until Andy Robertson popped up at the back post to head home and equalise with three minutes remaining, before Mane’s winner. It was not the performance Klopp will have been hoping for, but he will be proud that his team found a way to win while not playing at their best.
You can tell we’re missing Fabinho #AVLLIV
— Elliott ???? (RT Pinned pls) (@ElliottLFCSzn) November 2, 2019
Starting XI: Alisson (6); Alexander-Arnold (7*), Lovren (5), Van Dijk (5), Robertson (6); Henderson (4), Wijnaldum (5), Lallana (5); Salah (4), Firmino (5), Mane (7)
Substitutes: Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Origi (5), Keita (N/A)
STAR PLAYER – Liverpool were crying out for some quality in this match and it eventually came in the final five minutes.
it was Trent Alexander-Arnold who was the Reds’ best player on this occasion, however. The young right-back was always looking to get up the field and provide some width to the attacking play. The away side were primarily threatening from crosses and set-pieces and that was thanks to the quality of the supply – coming from the Englishman.
After all, it was his cross that provided Mane with the chance to grab the winner and pick up a valuable three points.
Liverpool should give me a heart insurance, heck that freaking late win, my heart can’t take it ? Dear @LFC !! #YNWA #AVLLIV
Robbo & Mane goals are superb but my poor heart ?????
— REST • lemonade? (@apeujiminyeo) November 2, 2019
Aston Villa next travel to take on Wolves next Sunday in the league, before hosting Newcastle on 25 November.
Liverpool, meanwhile, return to Champions League action in midweek, where they will host Genk. They then host Manchester City in a potentially pivotal match at the top of the league on Sunday.