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Aston Villa v Liverpool Live Commentary, 11/05/2022

FT
1 - 2
AVL
LIV
Douglas Luiz (3)
J. Matip (6)
S. Mané (65)
Villa Park

Commentary

That's all from Villa Park today, so thank you for joining us and goodbye!
While the Reds roll on to Wembley, where they meet familiar foes Chelsea, the penultimate fixture in Villa's campaign comes at home to fellow mid-table outfit Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Moving level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, Liverpool edge over the line in a tense affair at Villa Park, in which they were ultimately deserving winners. Despite enjoying bright spells at the start of both halves, Aston Villa were unable to sustain such intensity, and remain adrift of the top 10, as they seek to secure a top-half finish for the first time in over a decade. Victory may not have been achieved in their typical style, but Liverpool are still in contention for the title, having given a rest to several integral players before Saturday's FA Cup final.
90' + 6' FULL-TIME: ASTON VILLA 1-2 LIVERPOOL
90' + 4' Martinez pumps a long free-kick towards the Liverpool area, which Matip manages to partially clear. Some niggly shoving then breaks out between Keita and Mings, and the seconds tick down towards a crucial Liverpool victory.
90' + 2' Keita is back on as Villa have a corner from the right, but Buendia can only guide Luiz's cross wide of the goal with a difficult headed half-chance.
90' As four minutes of stoppage time are indicated by the officials, Keita lies stricken on the turf. He receives some medical attention in a sensitive area of the anatomy, and limps across to the touchline.
88' An ambitious attempt from Cash - with the ball bouncing up 20 yards out on the right side of the box - flashes well wide of the target, with several claret and blue shirts well placed to receive a cross into the box.
86' Ings powers a shot into the bottom-left corner from a tight angle on the right, to a brief explosion of joy from some Villa fans, but the flag then goes up for offside to quell their celebrations.
84' SAVE! Alisson denies Ings with a near-post save; parrying the striker's shot away after he had evaded four Liverpool defenders with some tidy footwork in the area.
83' Keita cuts across an attempt from 20 yards, after the ball bounces kindly into his path following a corner, and the ball swings wide of the right-hand post.
82' Leading inside the final 10 minutes, Liverpool are on course to win their eighth of nine league meetings with Aston Villa.
B. Traoré
O. Watkins
Aston Villa
81' Villa make another alteration to their attack, as hard-running Watkins is replaced by the mercurial Traore.
79' After Buendia picks out Ings in the six-yard box, Alexander-Arnold is well placed to intervene with a clearance as Watkins lurks behind him at the back post.
77' Mings blocks a Salah effort on the edge of the box, then Liverpool win the ball back immediately, as they press on for a decisive third goal. Alexander-Arnold has his cross cut out at close range, though, and the attack ultimately comes to nothing.
75' Rather awkwardly, Konsa shovels the ball away for a corner under pressure from Tsimikas inside the area. Then, from the set-piece, Matip diverts the cross straight at Martinez.
73' Alexander-Arnold twice crosses into dangerous areas following a persistent build-up from Salah and Mane, but the latter is just unable to get a clear touch on the second ball and Villa get the ball away. The hosts are hanging on a little now.
Mohamed Salah
L. Díaz
Liverpool
72' Another bright showing by Diaz comes to an early end, as he makes way for Salah up front.
E. Buendía
Philippe Coutinho
Aston Villa
70' A fairly subdued display sees Coutinho replaced by Buendia in a like-for-like substitution by Gerrard.
67' Twice in a matter of moments, Ings fails to take an opportunity to shoot against his former club, and on the latter occasion he overruns the ball; allowing Alisson to close the angle and smother the ball down low.
L. Díaz
Assist
Liverpool
65' Demonstrating great composure, having worked his way into space by beating Mings, Diaz accurately picked out Mane from the left byline.
S. Mané
Goal
Liverpool
65' LIVERPOOL LEAD! Coolly steering the ball into the bottom-right corner from near the penalty spot, Mane puts the visitors in front with a glanced header, following Diaz's cross from the left. The title contenders have fought back - it's 2-1 to Liverpool!
64' The tempo has dropped at Villa Park, after a lively start to the second period, but will the substitutes now make an impact on this game's outcome?
Thiago Alcântara
C. Jones
Liverpool
62' Liverpool also make a change in the engine room, as Jones is replaced by Thiago.
C. Chukwuemeka
M. Nakamba
Aston Villa
62' After starting for the first time in five months following an injury layoff, Nakamba makes way for Chukwuemeka in the Villa midfield.
59' In the first part of the second half, Liverpool have increased their share of the possession from 59 per cent to 70 per cent, but they have yet to force a shot on target since the break.
57' On this occasion, Alexander-Arnold attempts a firm, flat strike at goal from the set-piece. However, it zips well off target, to the apparent amusement of the Aston Villa fans.
56' A clear barge by McGinn on Mane concedes a free-kick five yards outside the area, not far from where Alexander-Arnold threatened the Villa goal from earlier in the half.
54' Villa are growing in confidence, as their start to the second half mirrors that of the first: they are trying to get bodies forward and unsettle the Liverpool back four, and making a good fist of it too.
52' Tsmikas makes a crucial intervention, as a heavy touch by Watkins from Ings' throughball into the box allows the left-back to thrust out a leg and divert the ball away to safety.
50' Though Coutinho nutmegs Van Dijk with some neat footwork, the Liverpool defender recovers to deter his opponent inside the area, causing him to slip. At the other end, Martinez is out quickly to nip the ball off Alexander-Arnold's boot in the box.
48' JUST OVER! After a delay while the referee rearranges Villa's defensive wall, Alexander-Arnold steps up to 20-yard free-kick on the left side of the area; curling it narrowly over the crossbar despite imparting some late dip.
47' Before today's game, Liverpool haven’t dropped a single point against sides starting the day in the bottom half of the table this season - Villa are 11th. Having won all 18 such games by an aggregate score of 52-4, no team in Premier League history has ever won all of their games against bottom-half opponents in a single campaign.
46' We are back under way at Villa Park!
Villa's energy and commitment has been impressive so far, given they have little left to play for, but Steven Gerrard will surely fear the cavalry's arrival during the second half, when his former club can call upon Salah, Firmino and company from the bench.
An eventful half ends with the game still finely balanced, as Villa's rapid start was quickly counteracted by their visitors' speedy response. The home side have subsequently threatened Alisson's goal on the odd occasion, but as the half-time whistle neared, it was Liverpool who were in the ascendancy. Missing a contingent of first-team players as they prepare for the FA Cup final, Klopp's men have been a bit disjointed at times, but must press for victory after the break if they are to retain realistic hope of winning the title.
45' + 4' HALF-TIME: ASTON VILLA 1-1 LIVERPOOL
45' + 3' In the third of three indicated stoppage-time minutes, the visitors earn a corner. Alexander-Arnold's flat cross to the back post is kept alive by Jota, but Mane is just unable to get a killer touch near the goal line and Villa get the ball clear.
45' + 1' An ambitious attempt by Jones curls over the bar from the left side of the area, after the Liverpool midfielder again gets the better of Nakamba, who appears off the pace on his comeback from injury.
44' Liverpool are on top heading towards the interval, and they probe patiently around Aston Villa's defensive third, but the hosts remain resilient.
42' SAVE! Martinez makes a save down to his left, after an error by Nakamba presents the ball straight to Jones in a good shooting position 20 yards from goal. His effort was too centrally-placed, though, and it is ultimately a straightforward stop.
40' Diaz goes down after an aerial collision with Digne, and the Colombian winger clutches his face as he waits for medical treatment. After a brief trip to the touchline, he is then cleared to rejoin the fray.
38' Incensed by an apparent foul on Luiz, his Brazilian compatriot Coutinho careers into a late tackle on Jones in midfield, which he is perhaps a little fortunate not to receive a booking for.
36' Villa are trying to take the sting out of the game by retaining possession inside their own half, as Liverpool have started to slice them open more regularly over the past few minutes. They may be glad to hear the half-time whistle.
34' MISS! Keita fails to exploit a virtually open goal, after Alexander-Arnold picks him out with a low cross from the right, and his comical miskick lets Villa off the hook. Only a matter of yards from goal, unmarked, the Liverpool midfielder really should have scored!
33' Cutting in from the left, Coutinho unleashes a powerful curling effort from the edge of the box, which flies comfortably over the crossbar.
32' A lovely short-passing move involving Mane and Keita, among others, picks out Diaz unmarked in the Villa area. He turns the ball home under Martinez from 10 yards, but the flag is then raised for a clear offside.
J. Henderson
Fabinho
Liverpool
30' Having not been prepared to appear so early, Henderson has to get fully dressed, but the Liverpool captain is eventually cleared to replace Fabinho in midfield.
29' Henderson is completing his hasty preparations on the bench, as Fabinho limps off the pitch, so there will be an enforced change in the Liverpool midfield.
27' Shortly after an error in midfield, Fabinho slowly drops to the turf nursing an injury, and the game is paused while he receives treatment from Liverpool's medical staff.
25' Mings meets a Coutinho cross from the inside-right position, and powers a header down into the danger area, just outside the six-yard box. Liverpool are able to get the ball away, but are looking increasingly shaky under mounting pressure from the home side.
23' JUST OVER! From a corner routine, the ball is gradually worked back to McGinn, stationed wide on the left, and his curling cross finds Ings in space at the near post. However, the former Liverpool striker's header lacks accuracy and zips over the crossbar from 10 yards out.
21' Alisson gets away with a howler, after he attempts an ill-advised pass to Fabinho outside his area, and only thumps the ball straight at the fast-closing Watkins. Fortunately for the Liverpool goalkeeper, the Villa man can't then get it under control and the chance dissipates.
19' CLOSE! Tsimikas whips in a ball from the left, picking out Mane in the middle of the area, and as the Senegalese striker rises between the Villa centre-backs, it seems as if his guided header will drop inside the far post. With Martinez left stranded, it drifts narrowly wide of the upright and the home side escape!
17' From the free-kick, Tsimikas floats in an outswinging cross, which causes the Villa defence some trouble before Cash ultimately pokes it away to relative safety on the stretch.
16' Enraged by the referee's decision, Konsa concedes a free-kick by the right corner flag for tangling too tightly with Jota.
14' Watkins is down holding his wrist after a clash with Matip in midfield, but after a brief moment of concern, the Villa striker is then able to rejoin the action.
12' Cash sprints to the right byline, but his cutback into the six-yard box is smartly cleared away by Matip in front of his own goal.
10' Tsimikas sees a cross take a big deflection off the retreating Cash, which then loops above Martinez, who has to extend his full frame to take hold of the ball before it crosses the line.
8' Matip's goal stands, as the VAR concludes there were no infringements in its slightly manic build-up. It stays 1-1!
7' The VAR is checking the validity of Liverpool's equaliser, so the game's re-start has been paused temporarily.
J. Matip
Goal
Liverpool
6' LIVERPOOL STRIKE BACK! Mings and Nakamba both make a hash of clearing a free-kick into the Villa box, and after the ball bobbles around dangerously, Jota pokes the ball into the path of Van Dijk. The Dutch defender's shot is part-blocked by Martinez, but Matip is on hand to prod it home from close range. Liverpool are back on level terms already: 1-1!
Douglas Luiz
Goal
Aston Villa
3' VILLA LEAD! After Digne drifts a cross from the left towards the penalty spot, Douglas Luiz rises highest to plant a header straight at Alisson in a central position. The ball rebounds back into the Brazilian's path, and he proceeds to thump the ball into an unguarded net! Liverpool's title hopes take another blow, as Villa go 1-0 ahead!
3' SAVE! Watkins wriggles away from Van Dijk inside the area, chops inside and shoots straight at Alisson, who palms the ball away!
2' It has been a relatively measured start from both sides, with neither team taking clear control of the game in the opening moments.
1' We are under way in Birmingham!
The players are out on the Villa Park pitch, with kick-off now just moments away!
With a trip to Wembley for the FA Cup final to come this weekend, Liverpool make five changes from the side that started the draw with Spurs. Salah is rested, and will be joined by Konate, Henderson and Thiago on the bench today; Robertson misses out through injury. A new-look lineup sees Keita, Jones, Matip, Tsimikas and Diogo Jota come into Jurgen Klopp's starting XI.
Aston Villa make a couple of changes from the team that won at Burnley, with the most eye-catching being a recall for Coutinho against his former club. As Chambers and Buendia are demoted to the bench, Nakamba comes into the hosts' midfield, while Ings and Watkins are paired together up front. Jacob Ramsey and Leon Bailey both remain unavailable due to injury.
SUBS: Caoimhin Kelleher, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Thiago, James Milner, Divock Origi, Jordan Henderson.
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Kostas Tsimikas; Curtis Jones, Fabinho, Naby Keita; Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane.
SUBS: Robin Olsen, Ben Chrisene, Calum Chambers, Ashley Young, Emiliano Buendia, Bertrand Traore, Morgan Sanson, Carney Chukwuemeka, Tim Iroegbunam.
ASTON VILLA (4-3-1-2): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne; Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn; Philippe Coutinho; Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins.
Liverpool have since won three games in a row against Villa in all competitions, but have more recently seen their quadruple hopes shaken after a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham last time out. Title rivals Manchester City are now three points clear of the Reds at the top of the Premier League table after beating Newcastle United on Sunday. Though their 12-game winning run came to a halt at the weekend, Liverpool's unbeaten domestic run now stands at 16 matches, and they have also kept clean sheets in four of their last five on the road.
After a 3-1 victory over Burnley at the weekend, Aston Villa have posted successive Premier League wins over relegation candidates - Norwich City being their previous victims. Following a sticky patch over the preceding weeks, taking seven points from the last nine available now sees the Villans close to breaking into the top half of the table, and they lie 11th before kick-off today. While Villa have won just two of their last eight home games in the top flight, a 7-2 thrashing of their illustrious visitors in the equivalent fixture last year may serve as inspiration.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of today's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park!