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Premier League

  • August 24, 2013
  • • 12:30 PM
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 42098

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool: Sturridge strike enough for Reds to maintain perfect start

Brendan Rodgers' side took all three points at Villa Park, despite a second-half surge from the home side, thanks to the England international's impressive first-half effort

Daniel Sturridge's rich vein of form continued as his excellent first-half strike gave Liverpool a 1-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa.

Sturridge's goal – his eighth in his last seven league matches – was all that separated the two sides on Saturday as Liverpool made it two wins from two matches to start the new season.

In a fixture where both sides struggled to assert themselves, Liverpool's win saw the Reds make their best start to a Premier League season since the 2008-09 campaign, in which they finished second.

Close-season signings Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna were drafted into Villa's starting lineup by manager Paul Lambert, in place of Ciaran Clark and Karim El Ahmadi, while Liverpool was unchanged, although new loan signing Aly Cissokho won a place on the bench.

Neither side could find their rhythm in the opening stages, as the contrasting styles made for a cagey beginning, but Liverpool settled first.

It took a piece of individual brilliance for Liverpool to take the lead, as outstanding footwork and a calm, composed finish from Sturridge delighted the traveling fans in the 21st minute.

The build-up was relatively innocuous, as a Jose Enrique ball from the left floated into the penalty area, but a smart dummy from Philippe Coutinho allowed Sturridge in.

And the in-form striker showcased his skill with a series of delicate touches to take the ball around Villa defender Antonio Luna, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan, before he poked into the top corner with the outside of his left foot from an acute angle.

In a half where chances were few and far between, Villa was continually frustrated by Liverpool's consistent defensive shape, but it did go close in the 41st minute when Christian Benteke's curling effort forced a terrific save from goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

The second half started much like the first, with both sides struggling to convert possession into chances, and although Villa had more of the play, all the team had to show for it initially was two Ashley Westwood efforts that went well over.

Villa's attacks slowly became more frequent and Benteke powered a header over from a corner, but Liverpool – which brought on Cissokho for his debut late on – continued to hold firm.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and substitute Aleksandar Tonev went close with left-footed efforts as the hosts continued to press, while Mignolet made an excellent stop to deny Benteke after he broke free in the penalty area.

But Liverpool - which could have won a late penalty when Sturridge was felled in the area by Guzan, only for referee Mark Clattenburg to wave away the appeals - held on for an important three points as its perfect start to the season continued.

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