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West Ham United
15 December 2012
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: N. Swarbrick
• Attendance: 44607
S. Gerrard 87'
C. Benteke 29', 51'
A. Weimann 40'
Liverpool grabbed a late goal through Gerrard, but were otherwise wasteful in front of goal. They struggled to carve out any clear-cut chances or work Guzan to any great degree, and must look to sign an out-and-out goalscorer in January. Villa defended magnificently though, with Baker especially good. Liverpool lose pace in the race for fourth place, while Villa take a massive step away from the relegation zone.
Villa took a two-goal lead in the first half, with a long-range effort from Benteke followed by a flowing move culminating in Weimann steering the Belgian's back-heel past Reina. After the break, the away side secured all three points through Benteke again, shrugging off challenges before passing the ball past the Reds' Spanish keeper.
FULL-TIME! It's all over at Anfield, with Aston Villa scoring three times to secure a memorable victory over Liverpool. The home side played some excellent, silky football, especially in the first-half, but couldn't contain the lively Benteke or breach a stubborn Villa defence.
90' + 3'
Villa thwart another lacklustre Liverpool attack, with Guzan collecting an over-hit pass. The Villans have secured a huge three points today.
90' + 2'
90' + 1'
There will be three minutes of added time...
Yellow Card Luis Suárez
Liverpool are appealing for yet another penalty. Suarez's deflected shot appears to hit the arm of Clark, but the referee dismisses it. Suarez is furious, and talks himself into the book.
Yellow Card Christian Benteke
Johnson and Benteke tussle, before the latter squares up to the English full-back. He receives a yellow card.
Assist Glen Johnson
Goal Steven Gerrard
GOAL! It's little more than a consolation for Liverpool, but they've grabbed a goal. Johnson drives forward, jinking towards goal before firing a shot towards the far post which Gerrard flicks on and past Guzan. Three minutes plus stoppage time to find two more goals...
K. El Ahmadi
Here's David Lynch again: "Liverpool look well and truly out of ideas here. Rodgers' tactical gymnastics earned them a brilliant three points against West Ham last weekend but they simply look like a team short of top-class attackers today - which is exactly what they are."
Cole feeds Johnson, who plays a cute back-heel for Suarez, but the Urugauyan's shot is blocked by Baker. Cole heads over from the resulting corner.
Downing crosses into the box and, unusually, there's no Villa defender there to clear the ball. Agger meets the cross and tries to fire a shot at goal on the turn, but the ball bounces off his standing leg and out for a goal-kick.
Benteke does brilliantly again, holding up the ball and feeding team-mates. His pass sets up Bannan, who tries to float a shot towards the far post, but Weimann attack the Scot's effort and nudges a header just wide of the near post.
Barring an unlikely and miraculous comeback, Villa should see out the match now. Liverpool look lethargic and don't appear to believe they can score, let alone mount a comeback. Shots continue to be blocked, crosses continue to be over-hit.
Delph gives away a free-kick on Sterling on the edge of the box. Suarez stands over the ball, but his effort bounces off the Villa wall and is eventually cleared. Liverpool are all bark and no bite today.
Sterling releases Downing down the left, but his cross is blocked by Clark. Baker clears the resulting corner, and Villa survive again.
Villa's brick wall of a defence continues to stand strong, shackling Suarez and confining Liverpool to optimistic shots from range. After unsuccessful probing around the box by the Reds, Sterling floats a cross straight into the arms of Guzan.
Villa hold onto the ball in Liverpool's half, promting cheers from the away fans every time a pass finds a neon shirt.
Liverpool, for all their good play, have struggled to really test Guzan or carve out any clear-cut chances. Villa look content to sit deep and see out the win.
Yellow Card Matthew Lowton
Agger finds space about 35-yards out from goal before launching a rasping, swerving drive towards goal. But Guzan is equal to it, and makes the save.
Sterling bursts past Lowton before being dragged down on the edge of the box. Suarez takes the resulting set-piece, and fires it against Guzan's foot from an acute angle. There's a goal-mouth scramble before Villa finally clear the ball.
Liverpool are appealing for a penalty again, claiming handball. The referee is having none of it.
Suarez breaks into the box forcing Herd to make a fantastic sliding challenge. From the resulting corner, Skrtel heads over the bar.
Rodgers brings on Henderson for Suarez as Liverpool search for a way back into the game.
Downing crosses into the box, and Villa's clearance falls only as far as Cole, who attempts a spectacular volley that whistles past the post.
Sterling plays a through-ball for Suarez, who tries to cross for the onrushing Gerrard. Clark blocks the cross, and Guzan makes a meal of collecting it, though eventually does hold onto the ball.
Johnson plays a deep cross to Suarez, which Guzan plucks out of the air. He falls to the ground heavily after contact from Suarez, angering the American keeper. There's a bit of handbags before play resumes.
Benteke makes a nuissance of himself again, winning a Guzan goal-kick. He traps the ball and feeds Holman, who attempts an ambitious shot that is easily saved by Reina.
Liverpool try to respond, but they look shell-shocked. Cole's poor cross is cleared by Villa, who break with Weimann. The Austrian runs the length of the pitch before driving a shot towards the bottom corner, but Reina saves and holds on.
Here's David Lynch on Villa's third goal: "Well that looks like that, then. Benteke latches onto the ball int he Liverpool half after Joe Cole is dispossessed and simply walks into the box after some atrocious defending from the hosts and passes beyond Reina. Woeful from Liverpool."
Goal Christian Benteke
GOAL! It's that man Benteke again! Liverpool had started the half so well, but Cole loses the ball to the big Belgian who strolls towards goal, holding off the challenges of Allen and Skrtel, before passing the ball past Reina.
Downing passes to Suarez inside the box, nutmegging Lowton on the way, before stroking the return ball towards goal, but Guzan makes the save.
Allen heads a poor Villa clearance back into the box. Bannan could clear, but he leaves the ball and it bounces into the path of Suarez. The Uruguayan shoots, but it's a tame effort and Guzan collects the ball with comfort.
Herd concedes a corner and Gerrard finds Skrtel at the back post, who heads the ball towards Agger on the penalty spot. The Dane is having his shirt pulled by Clark and falls to the ground, but the referee does not give a penalty and waves play on.
Liverpool get the second half underway, with Joe Cole on in place of Jonjo Shelvey.
Liverpool will be wondering how they're 2-0 down, but once again they have been hindered by bouts of "Gervinho-itus". Their finishing has been poor and final delivery questionable, and it's not a problem that is easily solved...especially with Villa defending so well.
Benteke has been huge for Villa, offering rare respite for the under-siege defence. The Villans opening goal was an excellent, powerful drive from the edge of the box by the big Belgian, and for Villa's second he played an utterly superb back-heel for Weimann to cap a brilliant, slick move.
HALF-TIME! It is scarcely believable, but Aston Villa have a 2-0 lead at Anfield. Liverpool dominated the opening half hour, created hordes of chances, but Villa showed the clinicalness that the Reds have not, taking their chances with aplomb.
45' + 1'
Downing passes into the box for Allen, but the Welsh midfielder can't sort his feet out quickly enough and runs the ball out of play for a goal kick. That's the last action of the half.
Sterling recovers possession on the edge of the area after another over-hit free-kick from Gerrard. He beats Lowton before firing a cross in, but Guzan intercepts at the near post.
Sterling drives towards the the edge of the box and dinks a cross towards the penalty spot. Shelvey meets the cross but Guzan punches clear.
Skrtel chips a ball behind the Villa defence for Gerrard, who taps the ball down to Suarez. The Uruguayan is about to pull back the trigger but Villa get back and clear the danger.
Assist Christian Benteke
Goal Andreas Weimann
GOAL! Bannan wins possession and feeds Benteke. The Belgian squares the ball to Weimann and continues his run into the box. Weimann then feeds Benteke, who back-heels the ball back to the Austrian, who strokes the ball into the back of the net. A wonderful, fluid attack.
Suarez bursts to life, teasing the Villa defence. Surrounded by three neon shirts, he wriggles away and finds Sterling, but eventually Villa snuff out the danger.
Liverpool look to break after a rare period of final third possession from Villa. Sterling is racing into space but Baker makes a brilliant challenge, taking some of Sterling in the process. The young winger looks hurt, but he's continuing for now.
Liverpool's fluidity has been reduced since they went behind. Villa have gained confidence and look more dangerous on the break.
Villa break forward again, with a long ball headed on by Benteke. Johnson looks to have mopped up the danger, but then plays a terribly weak back-pass which sees Weimann clean-through. The Austrian tries a first time lob, which only just misses the goal, with Reina well off his line.
Sterling feeds Gerrard, who plays a first time pass in behind Lichaj for Suarez to run onto. The Uruguayan smashes the ball into the side-netting.
That's Benteke's first goal away from home this season.
Assist Brett Holman
Goal Christian Benteke
GOAL! Completely against the run of play, Aston Villa take the lead. Holman advances forward and squares the ball to Benteke, who has dropped deep. The Belgian takes a touch and fires the ball towards goal, beating Reina at the near post.
Liverpool win a corner which Gerrard plays short before firing in another poor cross. The Reds' skipper has struggled with his delivery today.
Another fantastic chance for Liverpool! Downing plays an outrageous cross-field pass to Shelvey, who knocks the ball down for Suarez, who fires a shot at goal. Guzan makes the save, but the flag was raised anyway.
Clark steps up to try and steal the ball from Suarez, but the Uruguayan spins him. Herd, covering his centre-back, makes a good block-cum-tackle to deprive Suarez of a shot on goal.
Liverpool are pressing extremely high and granted Aston Villa no time on the ball. Allen and Suarez team up to rob Westwood, but Shelvey's lobbed through-ball is too strong for Suarez to latch on to.
Liverpool continue to flood forward, but Villa have looked almost dangerous on the break. Johnson and Sterling look particularly potent for the home side down the right, though their end ball has been poor so far.
A short throw from Guzan sees Lowton try and dribble past Suarez. But the Uruguayan doesn't fall for his drop of the shoulder and wins possession on the edge of the area. Suarez squares the ball for Shelvey, but Baker gets back to make a brilliant recovery challenge and snuff out the danger.
Bannan feeds Holman, who plays a through-ball for Weimann. The Austrian appears to have rounded Reina, but he's sent the ball too wide and the Spanish keeper manages to get back and tackle. Villa head over from the resulting corner.
Villa are struggling to contain Liverpool and are gifting possession back to Reds too cheaply. The away side have barely strung two passes together.
Sterling tricks his way into the box down the right flank and dinks the ball into the box, but his cross is over-hit. Liverpool recover possession and Johnson crosses, but Guzan claims the ball with ease.
Johnson gets forward with vigour once more and wins a corner. Gerrard's delivery finds Agger, who heads just wide, but Gerrard's cross was ajudged to have curled out of play before the Dane powered the ball towards goal.
The Liverpool onslaught continues, this time through Allen. Suarez drives towards goal before appearing to be fouled, but the ball ricochets to the Reds' Welsh midfielder who fires a shot wide from the edge of the area.
Downing storms towards goal, cutting onto his right foot before thundering a shot wide of Guzan's near post.
Since Villa's early shot on goal, Liverpool have been in total control and should be ahead. A Johnson surge and cross almost finds Suarez.
Allen presses high and wins the ball, feeding Suarez immediately. The Uruguayan plays in Gerrard but the pass is behind him and the chance appears to have gone; but Villa struggle to clear the ball and Gerrard is given the chance to prod the ball towards goal, though his effort is easily saved by Guzan.
Shelvey releases Downing into space down the left. The former Villa man drills a low cross into the box and Lichaj swings a boot at the ball, firing it towards his own goal, but Guzan makes the save.
Here's David Lynch, our man at Anfield today: "A moment's silence has been observed for former Liverpool manager Phil Taylor who recently passed away aged 95. The Englishman was succeeded by Bill Shankly in the Reds hotseat following a remarkable career at Anfield as both a player and coach."
Herd concedes a free-kick near the corner flag which Gerrard whips in, but his delivery cannot match Bannan's and the ball flies out for a goal-kick.
Skrtel gives away an early free-kick on Weimann. Bannan's delivery finds Benteke 8-yards out from goal, but the Belgian's powerful header is comfortably saved by Reina.
Aston Villa get the match underway.
The players are on the pitch and undertaking the customary pre-match handshakes. We're just minutes away from kick-off.
The last Aston Villa player to score a winning goal against Liverpool was Stewart Downing, now playing for the Reds. That strike is also the 28-year-old’s last Premier League goal.
Villa have won just once on the road in their last 16 away matches, and won only one of their last 10 Premier League trips to Anfield.
Christian Benteke, Aston Villa's leading scorer in the league with three goals, has yet to find the back of the net away from Villa Park.
Liverpool have lost just one of their last 11 league games (a 2-1 defeat against Tottenham), while Aston Villa will be buoyed by their mid-week Capital One Cup quarter-final win over Norwich.
Paul Lambert’s squad has been hit by a string of injuries, and with captain Ron Vlaar injured, youngster Nathan Baker continues in central defence alongside Ciaran Clark. Andreas Weimann, fresh from his two-goal haul against Norwich on Tuesday night, is selected on the wing, but will be tasked with supporting lone frontman Christian Benteke.
Luis Suarez returns to Liverpool’s attack after serving a one-match suspension against West Ham last week, while Jonjo Shelvey, who played as a false number nine against the Hammers, switches to the wing. With Jose Enrique sidelined, ex-Villan Stewart Downing is fielded at left-back once again. Lucas brings added steel and grit alongside Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard in the centre of midfield.
Aston Villa subs: Given, Bowery, El Ahmadi, N’Zogbia, Bennett, Delph, Albrighton.
Aston Villa XI: Guzan; Lowton, Baker, Clark, Lichaj; Holman, Westwood, Bannan, Herd, Weimann; Benteke.
Liverpool subs: Jones, Wisdom, Suso, Cole, Carragher, Henderson, Coates.
Liverpool XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Downing; Allen, Lucas, Gerrard; Shelvey, Suarez, Sterling.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play coverage of Liverpool vs Aston Villa! I'm Ewan Roberts and I will be guiding you through all the action from Anfield. First up, here are today’s line-ups…
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