Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool: Reds’ late rally shows the attitude of champions

Liverpool scored two late goals to come back from the brink as Aston Villa‘s valiant effort was undone, and the visitors ran out 2-1 winners.

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

Premier League (11), Villa Park
November 2, 2019


Trezeguet 20′
Robertson 87′ (assist – Mane)
Mane 90+4′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)

With a yellow card suspension looming over Fabinho, Jurgen Klopp rested the Brazilian and deployed Adam Lallana in the No. 6 role, and the midfield of him, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum struggled to settle.

Liverpool toiled in the final third as a result, with the best early chance coming from Mohamed Salah via a long, raking pass from Virgil van Dijk.

Unfortunately, Van Dijk and his defence were unable to catch Trezeguet offside as John McGinn floated in a free-kick on 20 minutes, and after a lengthy VAR check the winger’s volley put Villa 1-0 up.

Video assistant Martin Atkinson then went on to make two questionable calls against the Reds, with Roberto Firmino seeming to tap in from an onside position, before Sadio Mane was booked for diving when he had, in fact, been tripped.

But to blame the half-time result on the influence of VAR would be petty, as Liverpool were abject throughout the opening 45 minutes, lacking structure and creativity.

HT: Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 2, 2019: Liverpool's substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shoots during the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Fabinho‘s absence felt as Liverpool midfield lacks fluency
  • Villa go ahead through Trezeguet and VAR contrives to maintain lead
  • Klopp changes midfield twice in second half as Ox and Keita come on
  • Robertson’s late goal sums up never-say-die attitude of champions
  • And Mane’s stoppage-time header maintains six-point lead at the top

The second half began in very much the same vein, with Henderson notably culpable in lacking precision in the final third while both Mane and Salah were decidedly off-colour in front of goal.

A moment of pure quality from Trent Alexander-Arnold, on his 100th appearance for the Reds, crafted a great opportunity for Mane at the back post just before the hour, but Tom Heaton made a strong stop to keep out his header.

Villa’s rearguard effort told as two of their players dropped to the turf needing treatment as Klopp made two substitutions, sending on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi in place of the anonymous Wijnaldum and wasteful Salah.

Oxlade-Chamberlain provided some immediate thrust in attack, with three efforts on goal within seconds, but Villa threw bodies on the line in order to preserve their lead.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 2, 2019: Liverpool's Andy Robertson celebrates scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

They could do little as Mane lofted in a brilliant cross from the right and the most unlikely of scorers, Andy Robertson, steamed in to beat Heaton and equalise.

And remarkably that wasn’t it, as Alexander-Arnold’s corner was turned home by a stooping header from Mane for a stellar 2-1 comeback.

TIA Man of the Match: Trent Alexander-Arnold

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Aston Villa: Heaton; Guilbert (Elmohamady 70′), Engels, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz (Hourihane 72′); El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Wesley (Kodjia 87′)

Subs not used: Steer, Konsa, Taylor, Lansbury

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 65′), Henderson, Lallana (Keita 84′); Salah (Origi 65′), Mane, Firmino

Subs not used: Adrian, Gomez, Milner, Fabinho