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April 7, 2012
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 44321
L. Suárez 82'
C. Herd 10'
Shots on Target
So we end all square at the end as Suarez cancels out Herd's brilliant opener. It's just two wins in their last 13 for Liverpool in a result which doesn't help either side.
90' + 6'
Into a sixth added minute as Liverpool pump it forward... but that's it! Full-time!
90' + 5'
Into the last minute now. One more chance for Liverpool? Well, not like that as Flanagan sends an attempted cross straight out of play.
90' + 4'
Villa get the chance to break as Bannan tries to find an unmarked Agbonlahor on the edge of the Liverpool area but the pass is poor and the opportunity is wasted.
90' + 3'
Villa survive again as first Gerrard thacks the ball straight at Given from the edge of the area before Kuyt tries to get on the end of the rebound only to see the away side clear.
90' + 2'
The inexperienced Baker has been tireless for Villa today and he may have just saved Villa a point as he nicks the ball off the toe of Gerrard as the Liverpool captain skipped into the area. Outstanding display.
90' + 1'
Just entering stoppage time, of which there will be FIVE minutes.
SO CLOSE FROM CARROLL! The tall striker gets on the end of a Bellamy cross and meets the ball some five yards out, only to head it straight at Given. Anywhere else and we would have had a winner, I reckon.
Yellow Card Samir Carruthers
Ah, not a great first impression. Carruthers gets a booking for a dive. A tad unfortunate. Liverpool continue to press...
Villa's final sub now and it's 19-year-old Samir Carruthers for his Premier League debut. What a time for an entrance!
Suarez wins a corner off Warnock... Bellamy whips it in but Agger heads over.
Liverpool sense blood now and are going all guns blazing at the Villa defence. You can't say they haven't deserved to level matters. Can they grab a winner?
Assist Daniel Agger
Goal Luis Suárez
GOAL!! LIVERPOOL EQUALISE!! Gerrard sends in a super cross to the far post, Agger heads it down and Suarez converts from three yards out. 1-1. All to play for now!
Entering the final 10 minutes now. Can Liverpool break down the Villa defence?
Bannan is the actual culprit this time, however, as he is nowhere to be seen and allows Bellamy a stinging effort at goal. Luckily for the youngster the shot flashes wide of Given goal from 15 yards out.
Yellow Card Luis Suárez
A terrible attempt at a dive by Suarez as Bannan tries to put a foot in before quickly pulling it away, but that's enough for the striker as he goes down with absolutely no contact in shrieks of agony. He gets a yellow card for his trouble.
Little stop in play now as Baker appears to have suffered the full force of that Carroll charge into the area. He's back up now and seems OK to carry on.
Bellamy sends the ball in and Carroll just bulldozes his way through a group of Villa defenders to head the ball against the back of Collins' head. It drops kindly to the striker's feet but he can't sort himself out in time to prod home before Villa clear.
After a few minutes of very little action, a Bellamy ball across the goal forces a corner for Liverpool...
Second change for Villa as goalcorer Herd comes on for striker Weimann.
A very rare chance for Villa as Gardner has the chance to have a dig from 25 yards out but it is so tame that it just trickles through to Doni.
Yet another shout for a Liverpool penalty but I think it is dubious at best. Bellamy is battling with Baker a few yards inside the area and the ball bounces up and hits a combination of their forearms. Liverpool are furious but the referee, once more, isn't having any of it.
The home crowd cheer the arrival of the substitution. A win is a must for Liverpool here.
Double change for Liverpool and it is Downing and Shelvey who come off for Carroll and Bellamy. That's, theoretically, four strikers on the pitch for Liverpool now.
As much industry as Downing is showing down the left, his crosses are simply not reaching their targets enough.
Someone should tell Enrique that trying tricks and skills on the edge of your own area, especially when you are chasing the game, is not the best thing to do. Bannan knicks it off him and tries to play in Agbonlahor but Skrtel cleans up.
If Liverpool lose today, it will be the first time in 10 YEARS that they've suffered four defeats on the bounce.
This is turning out to be a very frustrating afternoon for all those associated with Liverpool. Ball after ball is flung into the box but Villa are dealing with (nearly) everything perfectly.
More from Liverpool as Downing sends the ball over to Gerrard just inside the area. The captain isn't having any luck against Warnock so he backheels the ball into the path of Kuyt only to see the Dutchman shank the ball high and wide. It really has not been his day.
Thinking about it, I may have gone a tad over-the-top with my initial reaction but Given's instinctive awareness was mighty impressive. So unlucky for Suarez.
WHAT A SAVE!! Suarez looked odds on to score after getting on the end of Gerrard's long, deep ball into the area. The header flicks onto the inside of the post, Given seems to have accepted the inevitable but the ball flicks up across the line to allow the goalkeeper to slap it away to safety. You really don't get any closer than that.
Villa threaten slightly by breaking down the right with Bannan but the youngster's attempted cross into the box for Heskey is cut out by Skrtel with ease.
It's business as usual as Liverpool are dominating possession, but Villa are composed in defence at the moment.
A glimmer of a chance for Liverpool as Downing tries to feed Suarez into the box but the striker can't get the ball under control and Given lets it run out for a goal kick.
Anfield is very subdued as the early exchanges are knocked about.
And Aston Villa get us back underway!
Just about to get back underway here. Liverpool trail 1-0 at the break.
So the young Villa side are leading 1-0 at Anfield at half-time. Liverpool bossed the majority from then on and should have had at least one penalty but they can only blame themselves (well, Kuyt) for a stunning miss just before the break.
45' + 1'
And with that the referee brings the half to a close. I still can't get my head around that Kuyt miss. That was remarkable.
WOW. Now this could be an even MORE crucial miss as somehow, SOMEHOW, Kuyt misses the target, with the goal gaping, from three yards out. One of the misses of the season, surely.
Wow, that could be a crucial slip! Out of near enough nothing, Herd sends a looping ball over the Liverpool defence for Agbonlahor to run onto. The striker just has Skrtel to beat but completely misses the ball when lining up to take a shot. Let off for the home side I reckon.
Suarez breaks down the right and gets to the touchline, but, as with their impressive display all game so far, the Villa defence crowd him out immediately.
Five minutes to go and Liverpool win a freekick near the right-hand touchline. Downing sends an arrowed ball in but Collins heads clear at the first attempt. Easy peasy.
ANOTHER shout for a penalty by Suarez and there is, perhaps, some sort of contact but he is looking for it. Either way the referee shakes his head once more. Little fact, no player has won more penalties than Suarez this season.
Villa are pressing all over the pitch, and it's paying off as Hutton steals the ball of the toe of Downing to send a decent ball into the Liverpool box. But Doni gets there first to claim with ease.
Another corner for Liverpool, but this time Gerrard takes over the reins and finds the head of Skrtel, only for the defender to directed the ball wide of Given's post.
Suarez is looking increasing frustrated. Villa haven't given him any space or time on the ball for the last 10-15 minutes.
Another corner for Liverpool, another decent delivery, another example of fine defending by Villa. And that's saying something for the away side as they are usually dreadful at defending set pieces.
Gerrard finds a pocket of space 25 yards out after being fed by Shelvey. The captain looks up and has a dig but he drag the low shot wide. Bannan was pressuring him though.
A weak shout for a Liverpool penalty is dismissed immediately by the referee, and I agree with him on this one. Suarez and Hutton tangle a yard or so inside the area but it really was nothing. The earlier shout on the other hand... Hmmm.
Further concerted pressure from Liverpool but still Villa defended as a team. The home side just cannot find a way through at the moment. Their movement is impressive though.
So with Everton currently winning (spoiler) and Sunderland gaining a point against Spurs earlier in the day, Liverpool could find themselves as low as ninth if results stay the same, four points behind their local rivals.
A couple more corners for Liverpool but both times it's a Villa man first to meet the ball and clear.
Enrique and Downing are combining well down the left here but Villa are defending very well. It seems the away side are very much going to rely on the counter now.
The tempo has dropped a tad here after the fiery response from Villa going in front. The crowd are in full voice though.
So the corner is whipped in and Doni pushes clear. He has no-one around him and there is no reason why he couldn't catch that. Question marks over the stand-in goalkeeper here, especially after the flap in the build-up to the opener.
More pressure from Villa as they win a freekick around 35 yards out. Warnock sends it in, it misses every Villa player, but Liverpool concede a corner anyhow...
Suarez and Kuyt are linking up well but just cannot find that little bit of luck with the final touch. Downing looks really up for this (for once). He is getting on the ball at every opportunity. There are definitely more goals in this.
Ooooh, that's a BIG penalty shout for Liverpool! Suarez turns neatly in the area and trys to find Gerrard with a cross, only to see the ball smack against Herd's hand. That has to be a penalty but the referee waves the protests away.
Liverpool have amped it up a gear, desperate for an immediate response, but Villa are defending well. I tell you what, McLeish's side look very dangerous on the counter.
That goal has stunned Anfield. It would be harsh to say Liverpool were on top but the finish was so unexpected.
Assist Barry Bannan
Goal Chris Herd
GOAL!! Aston Villa take the lead and it's a superb finish by Herd! Warnock makes waves from the left and sends a dangerous cross into the area, Doni flaps and pushes it into the path of Heskey who simply lays it off to Herd to side-foot it into the far top corner. Glorious.
I tell you what, that Kuyt shot was inches away from going over the line. Given's body is behind the line when he saves it but his hands are, at least, on the line.
CLOSE!! Great, great play by Downing as he paces past Hutton as if he isn't there and delivers the perfect low cross for Suarez. The striker can't make contact but Kuyt gets a toe on it and sends Given into a fine save at his near post.
The corner comes in but it's over everyone. Herd picks it up and tries his luck from distance but Doni is behind it all the way.
Now, first chance for Villa as great work from Heskey puts Doni under pressure...
Villa take the throw but immediately give it back to Liverpool. Kuyt picks it up and tries again down the right but he is duly taken out by Hutton. Play on.
Early pressure from Suarez down the Liverpool right, but it's cleared for a throw-in by Baker.
And we are underway!
Just before we kick-off, we have a beautifully observed minute's silence for the 23rd anniversary of Hillsborough.
Just a couple of minutes away from kick-off now. The teams are walking onto the pitch.
Liverpool, of course, come into this game having lost six of their last seven games. Their worst run since 1953. Then again, Villa are hardly setting the world alight. They are nervously looking over at those in the relegation scrap after slipping to just five points ahead. A win today for either team would help. Immensely.
For Villa, Hutton returns at right-back but N'Zogbia fails to recover from a knee injury so youngsters Herd and Lichaj remain.
So, Pepe Reina starts his three-match suspension for headbutting James Perch against Newcastle last week, so Doni comes in for Liverpool for his debut after joining last summer.
Aston Villa: Given; Hutton, Collins, Baker, Warnock; Lichaj, Ireland, Herd, Bannan; Heskey, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Weimann, Stevens, Johnson, Williams, Gardner, Carruthers.
Liverpool: Doni, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Shelvey, Downing, Suarez, Kuyt. Subs: Jones, Agger, Carroll, Maxi, Coates, Spearing, Bellamy.
First things first, the line-ups...
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Premier League clash between Liverpool and Aston Villa.
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