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18 December 2011
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: P. Walton
• Attendance: 37460
C. Bellamy 11'
M. Škrtel 15'
Joel Lamy at Villa Park: “An easy win for Liverpool in a game which they dominated, but once again they failed to score the goals which their brilliance deserved as they relied on two corners. Kenny Dalglish will be a happy man but he must wonder why his side don't score more than they do. Alex McLeish will ponder why his side cannot play well against the big sides as they are once again torn apart.”
FULL TIME! Two first half goals from corner kicks give Liverpool all three points, with both Bellamy and Skrtel getting their names on the scoresheet.
The home side gain a free kick on the edge of the area after Adam fouls his former Rangers teammate Hutton on the edge of the area, but their international colleague Bannan strikes the ball off of the Liverpool wall and the ball is cleared easily.
Bannan is next up to have an attempt on goal for Aston Villa, but once again the ball sails well over Reina's goal and out for yet another goal kick.
Joel Lamy: “Villa's players may have not given up but many of their fans have as they start to leave the ground. Despite missing several chances to kill the game they have closed this game out well and barring some very late drama will return to sixth place in the table”
Agger races forward for Liverpool, before finding Downing on the right, who then plays the ball to Shelvey on the edge of the area, but his shot goes over the bar.
Johnson races down the right wing for Liverpool, beating both Albrighton and Warnock, but as he cuts inside on the by-line, he takes a poor touch and puts the ball out of play for a goal kick to the home side.
Joel Lamy at Villa Park: “How this game isn't over I do not know, but with Villa looking increasingly unlikely of pulling a goal back Kenny Dalglish has afforded Andy Carroll a run out. Liverpool fans are taunting the Villa counterparts with chants of 'going down' which is perhaps a bit optimistic despite their poor second-half.”
N'Zogbia has a free kick from the left wing, but his cross is behind all of the Aston Villa forwards and is cleared by the Liverpool defence for a throw in.
Petrov launches a free kick into the box, in search of Dunne, but Reina comes out and punches the ball away towards Albrighton, but he can't make anything of his cross and evetually it is cleared from danger.
The ball is spending most of the time in the midfield area, with neither side able to quicken up the pace and look to put the ball into an attacking area.
A long ball aimed towards Suarez is cut out by Dunne, but only to the feet of Shelvey, but the midfielder's strike goes well over Guzan's bar.
Adam is next to try his luck, as he races in on goal, but an Aston Villa defender manages to deflect his shot for yet another corner to Liverpool.
Joel Lamy: “This has been a thrilling second-half and it really should be game over but the woodwork once again denies Suarez and Liverpool - it's the 17th time they've hit it.”
Suarez gets onto the end of a long ball and after seeing off Dunne he chips the ball over Guzan, but unfortunately for the Reds hitman it hits off the post and Bellamy, who was looking for the rebound is caught offside.
N'Zogbia has the first chance of the half for Aston Villa, as he tries a strike from just outside the box, which Reina does well to get down to.
Liverpool are holding onto the ball, not allowing Aston Villa a sniff at goal so far, with the home side failing to get in behind the defence.
A poor clearance by Warnock gives the ball to Johnson on the right wing, he then cuts inside and has an effort which Guzan does well to turn away for a corner to Liverpool.
Joel Lamy: “It should be game over here, no doubt about it. First Agger with that header and then Suarez looked almost certain to score. Some terrible individual mistakes by Villa players here and they are lucky not to have been punished. I wonder what Alex McLeish said at half-time but I doubt it was this.”
Suarez gets played in on goal and after Dunne fails to properly tackle the striker, it leads to him being able to get a shot on goal, which fortunately for the home side cannons off of the bar and away to safety.
Liverpool nearly get a thrid, a minute into the second half as Bellamy races down the left and crosses for Agger, but his diving header goes wide of goal.
Aston Villa get the second half started.
Joel Lamy: “Half-time here and it will be a happy Liverpool dressing room after two goals from corners see them in a comfortable position. Villa have tried to create chances going forward and one goal could change everything, but at the moment it looks like Liverpool's excellent record at Villa Park - they have lost just once in their last 14 matches - will continue.”
HALF TIME! Two goals from two corners for Liverpool, with both Bellamy and Skrtel putting the visitors into a commanding lead at the break.
45' + 1'
Liverpool are keeping possession, willing to pass the ball about the backline as they look forward to the half time break with a two goal lead.
The visitors continue to press, with Enrique willing to move forward on the left wing, but unfortunately for the Liverpool full back his final touch is too strong and the ball eventually rolls out for a goal kick.
Joel Lamy at Villa Park: “Some chants of 'Emile Heskey' after the striker flicked that header over but you think that was more sarcastic than anything else. Villa are showing some good spirit here but Liverpool still look comfortable in possession.”
Aston Villa try their luck from a corner as Albrighton delivers from the left onto the head of Heskey, but he puts the chance wide of goal.
Liverpool go from one end to another, with Bellamy finding Suarez, who had come deep and he then played the ball through to Shelvey, who slid in and played the ball off of Guzan for another corner.
The home side attempt a short free kick in the middle of the Liverpool half, with Delph eventually finding Peetrov, but his tame strike is saved well by Reina in the visitors goal.
Albrighton chips in a free kick from the right wing, which Delfouneso rises to get his head onto, but he can't direct the ball towards Reina's goal and it goes harmlessly over.
Yellow Card Craig Bellamy
Yellow Card Charlie Adam
Joel Lamy: “Only Tottenham have scored more than goal against Liverpool this season so the task here for Villa is certainly a steep one. They look bright going forward but defensively they are being taken apart on the wings. Stephen Warnock is having a torrid afternoon already.”
Downing plays the ball to Johnson on the right wing and the Liverpool full back cuts inside towards goal and after beating a couple of Aston Villa defenders, but Collins manages to see the ball out for a corner.
N'Zogbia has another attempt on goal as he is put through by Delfouneso, but after a poor first touch pulls him wide, his shot hits the side-netting of Reina's right hand post.
Aston Villa nearly get back into the game as Petrov finds N’Zogbia just outside the box, but his strike sails well wide of Reina's goal.
Joel Lamy at Villa Park: "We are only 15 minutes into this game but it already looks to be game over here. Villa have conceded eight goals from corners this season and scored none and with marking like this it is no wonder why."
Assist Craig Bellamy
Goal Martin Skrtel
GOAL! Another corner, another goal. This time Bellamy takes it from the left, onto the head of Skrtel, who got ahead of his marker to double Liverpool's lead.
Yellow Card Charles N'Zogbia
Liverpool continue to press forward, with Suarez finding Bellamy on the left wing, but the Welshman's cross is blocked for a corner to the visitors.
Assist Luis Suárez
Goal Craig Bellamy
GOAL! With the boos ringing in his ears Downing takes a corner from the right to Shelvey, who flicks the ball into the danger area and Bellamy is there to prod the ball home to open the scoring.
Downing gets the ball played to him on the right wing after a pass from Bellamy, the winger then cuts inside Warnock and has a shot at goal which Guzan saves well.
Joel Lamy: "Some early chants by the Villa fans aimed at Stewart Downing who isn't exactly trying to hide with his bright orange boots. He is getting a worse reception than Ashley Young did despite being player of the year last season."
Petrov tries his luck for Aston Villa with a free kick from 30 yards out, which Reina gets down well to save at his right hand post.
Liverpool get the game started.
Joel Lamy at Villa Park: "Marc Albrighton has been receiving a great deal of praise from his manager and captain following his goal at Bolton last week. Alex McLeish says ‘he rose to the challenge and shone,’ and Stiliyan Petrov says ‘he was outstanding throughout the game.’ The winger, though, revealed he doesn’t want his Mum attending any more of his matches because he believes he does better when she is not around! Looking at the Villa bench there are some surprising choices. Andreas Weimann is a an Austrian under-21 international, Daniel Johnson is an 18-year-old central midfielder who only broke into the reserves last year and led the under-18 side to the Barclays Premier Academy League Group B title after scoring two penalties in the final game against Chelsea. He has featured on the bench under Gerard Houllier but coming on against Liverpool would be a meteoric rise. Graham Burke, meanwhile, is an Republic of Ireland under-17 international forward who has impressed with some impressive goals for the reserves."
Joel Lamy: "It appears the fans of both sides are not entirely confident going into this match. Joe Collins, a 35-year-old plumber from Birkenhead says: “A Heskey own goal would be sweet! We like him but only when he’s playing rubbish against us. “Villa don’t have much up front, especially with Agbonlahor, but they have a pretty tight defence so I can see a low scoreline today. Hopefully we can just nick it.” Villa fan Aaron Marks from Edgbaston is hoping Villa’s player of the year does not get a bad reception on his return to the club: “Downing is back at the Villa today, I hope he doesn't get a frosty reception as he did a brilliant job for us over the last few years, saying that I don't want him to score! “Suppose we could have done with him today with Agbonlahor out, hopefully Bannan or Albrighton will be able to fill his boots! Predicting a solid performance, 2-1 Villa.”
Goal.com's Joel Lamy at Villa Park: "Welcome to Villa Park on this truly Super Sunday. It is the battle of two Scottish managers as Alex McLeish looks for his side to register back-to-back victories whilst Kenny Dalglish will want Liverpool to keep the pressure on the top four places. It is a reunion of sorts for two players today. Stewart Downing, who scored the winner in this fixture on the final day of this season, still looks for his first goal and assist for his new club having cost £20 million to move to Anfield. He is currently being outscored by a former Red in Emile Heskey, who has one for the season. Both sides boast outstanding players in Gabriel Agbonlahor and Luis Suarez but the former is suspended and the latter is still awaiting the verdict of his personal hearing. For those looking for a goal-fest a few stats to worry you: this fixture sees the team with the fewest shots on target take on the side with most shots off target. Liverpool have the best defensive record in the league and have only conceded more than a single goal on one occasion. Their games have seen the fewest goals with 31 in 15 matches. Darren Bent misses out for Villa with a thigh injury which is probably a good thing for Pepe Reina as there will be no repeat of the infamous beachball goal he scored for Sunderland. Elsewhere, there is a start for Jonjo Shelvey after his successful loan spell at Blackpool in place of Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy comes in for Dirk Kuyt. For Villa, Chris Herd misses out with an ankle injury meaning a return to the side for Fabian Delph who missed the Bolton game with a knee problem."
Liverpool subs are: Doni (GK) Carroll, Rodriquez, Coates, Kuyt, Carragher, Kelly.
Liverpool start the game with: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Downing, Adam, Henderson, Shelvey, Bellamy, Suarez
Aston Villa subs: Marshall (GK) Bannan, Clark, Cuellar, Weimann, Johnson, Burke.
The Aston Villa starting line-up is as follows: Guzan, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Delph, N’Zogbia, Petrov; Heskey, Delfouneso
The last time the two sides met at Villa Park it was a goal by now Red Stewart Downing that helped claim all three points for Aston Villa.
Aston Villa have only won three out of the seven home fixtures in the Premier League so far this season, while Liverpool have won four out of their last five away games, with the solitary defeat coming on their last visit away from Anfield, when they were defeated by Fulham.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of Aston Villa and Liverpool in the Premier League, my name is Matthew Harold and I’ll be guiding you through the game.
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