Losing only once in 16 games against former players in the dugout in a Premier League game at Anfield, Liverpool squared off against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa side with history in their corner. With that comforting statistic came a good start in which the ‘Reds’ could have been awarded a penalty when Sadio Mané went down following a touch from Matty Cash, only for Stuart Attwell to wave the incident away.
Although pressing well, it took 17 minutes for Liverpool to test Emiliano Martínez, with Andrew Robertson’s headed attempt parried away well to deny the opener. Moments later, the goalkeeper impressed again – saving Joël Matip’s header onto the crossbar. The best chance of the half came at the end, and fell to man of the moment, Mohamed Salah, who cut inside before firing towards Martinez’s near post – forcing the keeper to dive low and palm away.
The second half started with similar intensity to the first, with Liverpool once again sustaining their pressure. This soon led to the best chance of the game, through Virgil van Dijk when the unmarked Dutchman rose highest from a corner to direct a header towards goal, only for Martínez to once again produce a superb save. As the half progressed, Liverpool continued to increase their pressure, with Salah going close again – placing a trademark curled effort over the bar.
A goal for the hosts felt inevitable, and they finally had the opportunity to take the lead in the 65th minute when Tyrone Mings took Salah down inside the area. Attwell pointed to the spot, and the Egyptian stepped up before placing home his 14th Premier League goal of the season. Following the goal, Aston Villa searched for the equaliser, but struggled to force Alisson into action, coming closest when a mistake at the back almost allowed substitute Danny Ings an open goal. Liverpool held on, however, and secured the win – staying second and keeping Villa 12th.
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