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Premier League

  • January 18, 2014
  • • 12:30 PM
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: J. Moss
  • • Attendance: 44737

Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa: Sturridge and Gerrard spare Reds' blushes

Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke gave the visitors a shock lead but the England striker's cool finish and the captain's spot kick rescued a point for Brendan Rodgers' men

Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge rescued a point for Liverpool as the Reds came from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

Paul Lambert's side had taken the lead at Anfield as Andreas Weimann netted his third goal of the season after excellent work from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonlahor was on hand again in the 36th minute to create Villa's second, his cross evading Simon Mignolet to allow Christian Benteke to head into an open net from six yards out.

However, Sturridge latched onto a Jordan Henderson flick to reduce the deficit with his 11th league goal of the season and Gerrard levelled the scores from the penalty spot seven minutes after the interval.
By Tom Maston

If Brendan Rodgers does harbor title aspirations this season, then he needs to learn not to underestimate teams like Aston Villa. The Liverpool manager selected an overly attacking lineup, only to see his side get blown away by the pace and power of Villa’s attacks.

A dubious Steven Gerrard penalty may have rescued a point for the hosts, but the first-half showing from the Reds will have left many of their supporters very concerned with just over a week left of the transfer window.

For Paul Lambert, he must now concentrate on making performances like this the norm, especially at Villa Park.

Despite failing to win, Villa moves into 10th place in the Premier League, while Liverpool remains fourth.

Sturridge was fit to start his first game since November after recovering from an ankle injury, while the visitors gave a debut to loan signing Ryan Bertrand and recalled Weimann to the starting lineup.

Villa started brightly and wasted chances from Agbonlahor, Ashley Westwood and Ciaran Clark to break the deadlock, but when Weimann was presented his opportunity he made no mistake.

Agbonlahor was released behind the Liverpool defense on the left and delivered a low cross into the six-yard box where Weimann, who nipped in front of Gerrard, was placed to turn the ball home from close range.

Villa doubled the lead nine minutes later as Benteke made it two goals in as many games, the striker having the simple task of heading into an empty goal after Mignolet misjudged an Agbonlahor cross from the right.

Sturridge halved the deficit in the closing seconds of the half as he latched on to a neat flick from Jordan Henderson before firing beyond Brad Guzan to give the hosts hope.

With the extra momentum, Liverpool leveled soon after the halftime break as Luis Suarez was brought down by Guzan inside the penalty area, with referee Jon Moss pointing to the spot.

Gerrard assumed the responsibility and made no mistake for his fifth league goal of the season, and his 12th against Villa - more than he has put past any other side.

Fabian Delph went close to putting Villa back ahead on the hour with a curling effort from 20 yards, while Henderson brought out a fantastic save from Guzan five minutes later from the edge of the penalty area.

Suarez went agonizingly close to sealing all three points for Liverpool in the 77th minute, but his free kick was inches wide of Guzan's right-hand post.

The Uruguay international was central to Liverpool's late efforts to snatch a win but the Reds ultimately had to settle for a draw, which leaves them trailing league leader Arsenal by nine points.