The Reds started in shambolic fashion but managed to dig deep and find enough to overthrow Villa and go back to level on points at the top with Man City.
Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool
Villa Park, Premier League
Tuesday 10 May 2022
Goals: Luiz 3′; Matip 6′, Mane 65′
Alisson – 8 (out of 10)
Two big saves and then beaten, all within 200 seconds of kick-off, which tells you how bad the Reds were from the whistle.
Then almost gave Watkins a goal by passing straight to him and then falling over, but recovered nicely. Big one-on-one save from Ings after 2-1, then saved at the near post from the same striker late on.
Vital again. No wonder the travelling Reds were singing his name after full time.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
One or two great moments with dribbling and delivery, but mostly was kept deep early on. Clever ball for Keita’s missed chance and a couple of corners were really good, too.
Fired a free kick just wide and then almost fed in Diaz afer the restart, while also incurring the wrath of his captain for a few loose moments.
Seemed to get a lot better the longer the game went on, bursting into space with regularity to pass or cross into dangerous areas and dominating at times in midfield.
Joel Matip – 7
Didn’t win the initial header and then went over as Villa took the lead, but prodded in the equaliser to make up for it.
To be fair he didn’t have a tremendous game defensively, with several runners in behind him at times. But won the aerials and passed out well.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Got totally turned around for the opener, having switched sides with Matip – not unlike the Son goal at the weekend, when he and Konate were momentarily (and costly) swapped.
Looked very irritated with all the mix-ups and mistakes in the opening 20 minutes but he was involved in more than one of them himself.
Beaten by Coutinho after the break but showed good recovery pace, before beating Watkins about five times in direct duels.
Kostas Tsimikas – 7
Part galloping explorer, part worrisome ignorer of runners in the first 30′.
Magic recovery tackle on Watkins just into the second half, so vital.
One of several in the team who could be forgiven for not being on top form given a lack of game time but he grew into the match well and was a good outlet.
Fabinho – 4
Conceded a succession of fouls and almost gifted a chance with a poor pass on the edge of his own box. Was eventually booked.
Then seemed to mis-control a ball in midfield and, stretching to try and recover it, tweaked a hamstring and was immediately subbed off.
He had a dreadful half-hour, but there are few players we’d want injured less for two cup finals.
Naby Keita – 7
Over-quiet in a first half which bypassed midfield due to madness in both boxes, but did create – and then entirely mess up – one chance. A clever run took him into the area, but when Trent’s return pass found him eight yards out…he produced only an air-kick.
Second half was a lot more controlled and involved in deep build-up, but with less surging into the final third.
Almost netted a trademark long-ranger which sliced just wide. Really good evading challenges and moving into space.
Curtis Jones – 7
Very good when on the ball first half. Problem was, he was on the ball about three times.
While the game flew around him early on, which can partly be attributed to the fact he has hardly played of late, he was at times the only midfielder playing with deliberation and accuracy in the pass, he won a few free-kicks with quick feet and opened a couple of shooting chances.
Subbed after the hour mark.
Luis Diaz – 8
Right wing duty tonight, with the Colombian a forceful runner whenever given the opportunity and often occupying two defenders at once.
Didn’t trouble Martinez with any strikes, but created several openings including an offside Mane ‘goal’ and then his brilliant cross as an actual assist.
Maybe a surprise sub off, but we’ll need him full pelt at Wembley after all.
Sadio Mane – 9 (Man of the Match)
So close to a fantastic headed effort which dropped just wide in the first half – but as it turned out, that was just a warm-up.
Sadio’s superb goal was far more difficult than it looked: running away from the ball, facing away from goal, no time to take a touch or even a look. It was magic.
Some superb control and hold up play in central areas, where he’s become proficient in recent weeks.
Diogo Jota – 5
Got a bit on the ball (and on Konsa) in the lead-up to the equaliser, but there’s no question his touch is really a mile off where it needs to be and his impact on games is minimal at times.
Was involved in the second goal though as he flicked a pass wide for Diaz.
Simply can’t be a candidate to start the FA Cup final.
Jordan Henderson (on for Fabinho, 29′) – 7 – Into the No6 and while his first-half passing was terrible, he did at least win the ball back and be available for recycles to help the Reds regain control.
Thiago (on for Jones, 63′) – 7 – He came on, he won the ball, we scored. Several good defensive bits.
Mohamed Salah (on for Diaz, 71′) – 5 – A couple of runs which might have led to a good chance but couldn’t quite find the space for them. Looks miles off his best.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Gomez, Milner, Firmino, Origi
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Shuffled the pack yet again to try and keep the whole group sharp ahead of Wembley, while also staying in the hunt for if City slip up.
Hopefully the decision to start Fabinho doesn’t prove too costly, but we can’t wrap everyone in cotton wool for another three weeks.
Forced into one change, then a curious second to make it Thiago not Salah – but we did need better tempo and build-up at the time at 1-1.
A few roars at his midfielders to close play down late on as Villa passed through, but did the job in the end.