Liverpool came from a behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa last night. Douglas Luiz had given the Villains an early lead before Matip cancelled it out almost immediately. A Mané winner second half means the Reds remain in the title hunt. Here’s a review of the match.

You can find player ratings from the match here.

° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp made five changes to his side as he continues to rotate his charges in this marathon season. After an intense game against Spurs on Saturday, and with Chelsea in the FA Cup final to come this weekend, rotation was required.

Matip and Tsimikas came in for Konaté and Robertson, with the Scottish captain left out of the squad completely. Keita and Jones lined up in midfield with Henderson and Thiago handed a breather. Jota then replaced Salah in the front line.

° Slow start. It was another slow start for the Reds here and Villa capitalised. Watkins was in an offside position when a through ball found him. He got away from Virgil too easily and saw his strike beaten away by Alisson. The flag stayed down and Liverpool didn’t react quickly enough.

° Villa take the lead. The ball was sent back into the box and a weak Keita clearance fell to Digne. His cross to the backpost saw Tsimikas barge into Watkins who fell into Matip. That gave Luiz a free header which Alisson spilled back into his path for an easy tap in. A clumsy goal to concede had made the task harder.

° Matip strikes back. Joel was fouled for their goal but the VAR official wasn’t interested. He responded by going up the other end and tapping home a loose ball after Van Dijk’s shot was blocked, to draw his side level. Villa appealed for a foul on Hause by Jota but the officials showed consistency by ignoring their appeals.

° Chaotic start continues. With two goals in the opening six or so minutes, the chaos continued. Alisson almost gave a goal away when he passed straight to Watkins. Luckily he was able to clear his lines before the striker could pounce. It was a wild game with no semblance of control.

° Fabinho injury. The Brazilian contributed to the early chaos as he lost possession on a number of occasions and gave away free kicks in dangerous areas as a result. He felt his hamstring and was taken off as a precaution. That delay and the introduction of the skipper helped wrestle a bit of control in the game.

° It stays level at the break. The last 15 minutes of the first half saw Liverpool in the ascendancy. They went close a few times. Jones placed a shot too close to Martinez before flashing another shot over. Keita also completely miskicked when Trent found him unmarked in the box.

Failure to win could have seen Manchester City crowned champions before Liverpool next played in the Premier League. The pressure was on at halftime and Jürgen Klopp had to once again rouse his team up at the break.

° Thiago comes on. The Spaniard was held back from the start but the game was crying out for him. He was handed the last half hour and immediately made an impact. He won the ball back and the Reds broke swiftly up the pitch to cause damage.

° Mané hands the Reds the lead. It was a beautiful transition as within two passes, Diaz had been released behind the Villa defence. He checked back onto his right and whipped a low cross to Mané who adjusted his body brilliantly to divert the ball into the bottom corner.

° Alisson to the rescue. After a shaky first half, the Brazilian stopper came to his side’s rescue in the second period. He did well to smother when Ings was clean through on goal before pulling off a magnificent save in the 84th minute to push the striker’s powerful shot away.

° Show of grit. It was not pretty but the Reds got over the line in the end. They showed their mentality once again by battling through adversity to get the job done. Mané stood out and the manager was full of praise for him post match.

Liverpool haven’t dropped a single point against sides starting the day in the bottom half of the table this season. They have won all 19 such games by an aggregate score of 54-5.

° Title race. This was Liverpool responding to the dropped points against Spurs last time out. The win means Manchester City can’t slack. They will have to go to Molineux and the London stadium and get results. The pressure is right back on them.

I didn’t think goal difference would come into it but we could have a situation where the Reds will have to outscore City in the last two games to lift the title. There has to be another twist in this race before that happens. Liverpool aren’t going away though, they will fight to the very end.

° What next? It’s back to Wembley to face Chelsea again, this time in the FA Cup final. The Reds have fallen behind in each of their last three matches, coming back to win twice and drawing once. They can’t afford to go behind on Saturday. It’s been 16 years since the club last lifted the FA Cup. It’s time to end that drought.


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