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West Ham United
March 31, 2013
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 42037
C. Benteke 31'
J. Henderson 47'
S. Gerrard 60'
And that's all from me, stay tuned on Goal.com for all today's football news and reaction. Over and out.
Guzan was the difference between a narrow defeat and an absolute drubbing today for Paul Lambert's side. The American goalkeeper made a string of important saves but to no avail as he ends up on the losing side.
Liverpool completely turned it around in the second half, and they keep the pressure on Everton, who sit three points ahead of their rivals. Aston Villa however will be left kicking themselves. They have now dropped 21 points from winning positions and remain in the relegation zone. it's going to be an important seven weeks for both clubs.
90' + 3'
Benteke puts the ball in the net again! But unfortunately this time he is two yards offside and it doesn't count. That's the last chance for Villa, full time.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Ashley Westwood
90' + 1'
Westwood is lucky not to be sent off here. He goes in studs up on Jordan Henderson and connects with the midfielder's calf. That was dangerous, but Lee Mason decides that a yellow card will suffice.
Three minutes are going to be added, will Aston Villa be able to salvage anything from this game?
Liverpool are trying to kill some time here as Pepe Reina pays particular attention to placing the ball for a free kick. Villa Park is starting to voice its frustrations.
Villa are starting to push up a bit more now, Paul Lambert is on the touchline barking out orders. I'm sure he would happily settle with a point at the moment.
Suarez darts towards the goal, skipping through the Villa defence and almost past Guzan but the American gets a hand to the ball and Suarez chips the ball into the goalkeepers arms.
Carragher shows his experience to hold off Agbonlahor and concede a corner. Wasted by Aston Villa and it looks like Liverpool are going to see this game out with ease at the moment, but only time will tell.
Raheem Sterling also replaces Coutinho for Liverpool. The Brazilian has been superb for the Reds today, assisting Henderson's goal. One thing that could be said is that he needs to show a bit more composure in front of goal, but there are no doubts that the youngster will learn.
K. El Ahmadi
Aston Villa make their final change with Sylla being replaced by El Ahmadi who is gifted the chance to make a difference.
Little action to speak of at the moment. Villa are passing the ball among their midfield under little pressure from Liverpool.
Liverpool look more than happy to slow down play at the moment. Taking what probably seems like a lifetime to Paul Lambert to take a free kick.
Paul Lambert's side are desperately trying to get back into this game. It's been a disastrous second half for Aston Villa.
What a goal line clearance, from no other than Steven Gerrard. Benteke gets up to head the ball towards goal but the Liverpool captain dashes back to get the ball clear. Worthy of a kiss on the head from Pepe Reina.
Fabian Delph's first involvement this afternoon is a shot from the edge of the box, which would be goal bound if it wasn't for a Liverpool deflection. Corner.
There was no reason there for Baker to go to his feet there. Suarez was on the touchline, and would have struggled to score from the position he was in.
Penalty Goal Steven Gerrard
And Gerrard scores from the spot. Guzan goes the right way but is just unable to reach the midfielder's effort.
Penalty! Nathan Baker makes a poor challenge and brings down Luis Suarez in the box. Lee Mason had no choice there but to point to the spot.
Another chance for Liverpool, and once again, Villa survive. Glen Johnson bends a shot towards the goal which clashes against the post. Brad Guzan had no chance there.
Ohhh Coutinho. That should have been a second goal for Liverpool. One on one with Guzan he attempts some fancy footwork to fool Guzan, but then pushes his effort wide of the post.
There's certainly more goals to come in this one. Neither side will want to take a point away.
Agbonlahor wastes yet another chance, firing well over the bar instead of putting in Sylla who was standing wide open to his right.
Liverpool are really piling on the pressure now, chasing down every Villa pass. Whatever Brendan Rodgers said at half time, it definitely seems to have worked.
Yellow Card Steven Gerrard
Assist Philippe Coutinho
Goal Jordan Henderson
Goal! Beautifully taken by Jordan Henderson, but what great vision from Coutinho. The Brazilian youngster slides the ball towards an open Henderson, who shows composure to slot the ball past Guzan. Game on!
And the second half is underway, with Lee Mason warning Lucas Leiva straight away for use of an arm.
Brendan Rodgers will not have been pleased to see rivals Everton go six points clear of his side yesterday. Away form has been Liverpool's downfall this season, only managing to clinch four Premier League wins outside of Anfield this season.
Benteke's goal marks his 18th of his first campaign in English football. He's shown such clinical finishing since joining Aston Villa, and he could be the difference between which division they end up playing their football in next season
It will be interesting to see if Brendan Rodgers opts for any changes, given that he has Daniel Sturridge ready and waiting on the bench.
Lee Mason blows the whistle for half time and Paul Lambert will be relieved given the amount his goalkeeper was being tested towards the end of that first half
We will have one minute of added time here at Villa Park.
Another great save by Guzan. Gerrard takes aim from the edge of the box, it's unclear whether the ball takes a deflection or just moves a lot, but still, the Villa keeper makes a fantastic save and parries the danger away.
Great Chance for Liverpool! Suarez finds himself all alone on the ball but his one on one effort against Brad Guzan is saved by the American's feet.
The striker then goes on to win a corner for the Reds with some fancy footwork, but Downing's cross is not his best and once again, the sturdy-looking Villa defence get the ball clear.
Suarez attempts to replicate his goal from distance against Norwich, but this time it flies well wide of the goal. Brendan Rodgers will not enjoy watching those kind of chances being wasted.
That goal marks Benteke's 14th Premier League goal of the season. What a signing.
Assist Gabriel Agbonlahor
Goal Christian Benteke
What a goal. Westwood's long ball up the field is laid off by Agbonlahor to Benteke on the edge of the box and the Belgian thumps it past Pepe Reina into the net.
Agbonlahor decides to have a pop from 25 yards. Not an impressive effort as Reina watches the ball roll well wide of his post.
Nothing seems to be going right for Benteke at the moment. Another penetrating cross from Agbonlahor flies just above the Belgian's head. He's looking very frustrated out there.
Weimann takes on Daniel Agger and passes him with ease but his cross which follows is a disappointing one. Wasted opportunity there.
Both sets of fans erupt into applause in the 19th minute to pay their respects to club captain Stiliyan Petrov, who continues to battle against Leukemia.
Stewart Downing has been pretty ineffective this afternoon, which could partly be down to the hostile reception which he is receiving from his former fans.
How have Aston Villa not taken the lead here. Pepe Reina makes an instant impact in his return for the reds, saving a point blank range effort from Gabriel Agbonlahor. What a save it was as well, great reactions.
Weimann and Benteke link up well with the Austrian swinging in a cross towards Benteke which is cleared for a corner by the Liverpool defence. The resulting set piece is a poor one. Goal kick.
A good ball from Jordan Henderson finds Coutinho open on the left,but the young Brazilian stumbles over the football and Villa's defence clear the danger.
The resulting corner finally ends up at Suarez' feet, who fires a wayward shot above the bar.
Coutinho's through ball towards Suarez finds Ron Vlaar, who concedes a corner under minimal pressure.
Very open game so far, both side's looking to clinch what could be a vital early goal.
Close! Joe Bennett whips in a dangerous cross towards Benteke who is loosely marked, but the Belgian fails to capitalise and his header goes wide of the post.
Early on, Jose Enrique attempts an ambitious through-ball to Luis Suarez, and the ball escapes the Uruguayan's outstretched leg.
The teams are out and raring to go, Lee Mason will be today's referee..
Both sides have a lot to play for this afternoon. Brendan Rodgers will be wanting his side to regain some momentum in order to push for European football, whilst Aston Villa will be looking to establish a gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
Brendan Rodgers has made four changes to the side which suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to Southampton. Pepe Reina makes a return between the posts whilst Martin Skrtel, Joe Allen, and Daniel Sturridge are replaced by Jamie Carragher, Jordan Henderson, and Lucas Leiva.
Paul Lambert has made only one change to the side which defeated QPR two weeks ago, with Ciaran Clark suffering from a suspected shoulder problem so he has been replaced by Joe Bennett
Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard; Coutinho, Suarez Downing. Subs: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Shelvey, Sterling, Suso, Sturridge.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Bannan, Sylla; Agbonlahor, Weimann, Benteke. Subs: Given, N'Zogbia, Delph, Dawkins, El Ahmadi, Bowery, Lichaj.
And without further ado, lets have some team news...
Paul Lambert's side will be looking to record a third consecutive win in the Premier League to bring them out of the relegation zone whilst Liverpool will want to make amends for their 3-1 defeat to Southampton a fortnight ago.
Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, my name is Adam Gilbert (AdamGilbert0511) and I will be talking you through all the action at Villa Park where Aston Villa face Liverpool.
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