Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa: Sturridge double helps Reds to victory

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Liverpool won 3-2 at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, as a Daniel Sturridge double and a James Milner strike saw the Reds earn all three points.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring the first goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 3–2 Aston Villa

Premier League – Anfield – Saturday 26th September 2015

Goals: Milner (2), Sturridge (58 & 67); Gestede (65 & 71)

Pre-match

Brendan Rodgers made five changes to the team that scraped past Carlisle United in the League Cup on Wednesday, with a win against Villa absolutely paramount in terms of the manager’s future.

Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Sturridge all returned to the fray, with Adam Bogdan, Dejan Lovren, Joe Allen, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino making way.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool players form a team huddle before during the Premier League match against Aston Villa at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First-half

Barely a minute had been played when Milner fired Liverpool in front from 20 yards out in front of the Anfield Road end. It was the perfect start for Rodgers and his equally under-fire players.

Emre Can‘s flicked header went straight at goalkeeper Brad Guzan soon after, while Villa striker Rudi Gestede headed just wide.

Danny Ings curled an effort high and wide following some terrific footwork, while the powerful Gestede shot wide following a poor clearance by Can.

Liverpool continued to dominate proceedings as half-time approached, without creating any chances of note, while the visitors threatened sporadically, with Ashley Westwood’s effort deflected for a corner.

Milner’s early strike was the difference at the interval.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring the first goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Second-half

There were no changes at the break, as Liverpool looked to do what they couldn’t achieve against Bordeaux, Norwich and Carlisle: score a second goal having gone 1-0 up.

Philippe Coutinho missed the target shortly after the restart, while Scott Sinclair harmlessly headed an effort adrift of the goal.

Nathaniel Clyne almost doubled the Reds’ lead after Guzan parried Milner’s initial shot, while Coutinho’s free-kick was straight at the American.

Sturridge made it 2-0 near the hour mark with a sublime volley in front of the Kop, after a quiet display from the 26-year-old up until that point. Liverpool were in total control.

Gestede pulled a goal back from close-range midway through the second-half, and Anfield was suddenly filled with doubt.

Another brilliant Sturridge finish made it 3-1 barely a minute later, following a delightful one-two with Coutinho, but Gestede again found the net to pull a goal back.

Coutinho worked Guzan into a fine stop from a free-kick, but Rodgers’ men were clearly nervy having been pegged back twice by Villa.

Sturridge missed a glorious chance to complete his hat-trick in the dying minutes, but the Englishman was thwarted by the impressive Guzan.

Liverpool clung onto victory, thank goodness, earning Rodgers a much-needed three points in the process.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the third goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Can, Lucas, Milner, Coutinho, Ings, Sturridge (Allen ’90).

Subs not used: Bogdan, Toure, Gomez, Lallana, Origi, Ibe

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Richards, Lescott, Amavi, Sanchez (Veretout ’59), Gana, Westwood, Grealish (Traore ’69), Sinclair, Gestede.

Subs not used: Bunn, Clark, Bacuna, Ayew, Gil

Referee: Jonathan Moss

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