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Premier League

  • 7 April 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: M. Oliver
  • • Attendance: 44321

Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa: Late Suarez strike saves point for struggling Reds after Herd opener

Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa: Late Suarez strike saves point for struggling Reds after Herd opener

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Striker headed home towards the end for Kenny Dalglish's side after the Australian youngster's early strike, though the Reds will feel they could have had a penalty

Luiz Suarez headed home late on as Liverpool avoided a fourth straight league defeat with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

Australian youngster Chris Herd had put Alex McLeish's side ahead after just 10 minutes with a sweetly struck opener.

The hosts saw a couple of decent penalty appeals turned away but finally bagged an equaliser in the closing stages through Suarez, who pounced after substitute Daniel Agger had headed against the bar.

The hosts made four changes from the defeat to Newcastle United as Alexander Doni stepped in for the suspended Pepe Reina in goal, while Jay Spearing, Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy were replaced by Jordan Henderson, Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing.

And after an immaculately observed minute’s silence ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool had the first chance of the game as Downing skipped past Alan Hutton and flashed the ball across the six-yard box for Kuyt, whose close-range effort was pushed out by Shay Given, though it may have crossed the line.

But the Reds were punished almost immediately after that as Doni failed to clear a high ball from Stephen Warnock, which Herd expertly curled beyond the Brazilian from just inside the box having been teed up by Bannan.

6.5 The Villa defenders bossed the striker around for most of the game, leaving the Uruguayan frustrated and without anywhere to go on a number of occasions. Took his only real chance of the game to full effect, heading in from Agger’s rebound.

Herd might have given away a penalty straight after the restart when Suarez’s knock on for Steven Gerrard appeared to strike the Australian’s arm, but the spot kick was not awarded by match official Michael Oliver.

James Collins headed a corner wide for Villa but Dalglish’s side began to control possession as the half wore on and Skrtel went close after 36 minutes, nodding past the post from a Gerrard set piece.

Liverpool had second appeals for a penalty turned away before the interval as Suarez twisted and turned in the box and went down under minimal contact from Alan Hutton.

The chance of the half fell to Dirk Kuyt however, who latched onto a drilled ball from Gerrard after a Suarez cross, but hammered the ball over the bar and high into the stands from point blank range with a practically open goal at his mercy.

Suarez had the final shot of the opening 45 minutes, shrugging off Stephen Ireland to side-foot straight at Given, and the hosts went into the break a goal down.

Shortly after the break it was the Uruguayan who would go close again as he glanced a whipped Gerrard cross from deep at goal, but could only watch the ball bounce agonisingly off the inside of the post, before Given pushed it away from danger.

With over an hour to play, McLeish signalled his intent to hold onto the lead rather than enhance it, replacing Emile Heskey with Gary Gardner.

Dalglish responded, bringing on Carroll for Downing, while Jonjo Shelvey was replaced by Bellamy, who flashed a shot wide within seconds of coming on.

But it was Gardner who was presented with the opportunity to test Doni, but his shot was tame and straight at the stand-in goalkeeper from 20 yards.

Andreas Weimann was brought on for goal scorer Herd with the game approaching the closing stages, while Daniel Agger made his return from injury in place of Jose Enrique.

Suarez was never far from the action and was booked for simulation after going down easily for the second time following a half-challenge from Ireland.

With 10 minutes left, two of the Liverpool substitutes went close, as Bellamy rifled into the frame of the goal after a Collins clearance and Agger’s driven effort fell wide of the post.

But just a minute later, the hosts finally equalised when Gerrard’s cross was headed onto the bar by Agger, before Suarez stooped in to force home the rebound.

Gerrard tested Given once more late on, but Liverpool could not find a way through and had to settle for a point against a struggling Villa side.

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