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September 13, 2014
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 44689
G. Agbonlahor 9'
Liverpool will not have to wait long to get back on the pitch, as they take on Ludogorets in their Champions League opener on Tuesday. I am Alex Moretto, and I would like to thank you all for joining me here today. Good bye!
FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-1 ASTON VILLA. Superb performance from the visitors who maintain their unbeaten start to the season, and sit in second place in the Premier League. Gabby Agbonlahor's ninth minute goal proved to be the difference as Liverpool's second half push proved futile. Frustration was the predominant theme for the hosts as they seemed to really miss Daniel Sturridge.
90' + 4'
That's it! It is all over at Anfield! For the first time in their history, Aston Villa have gone four consecutive matches at Anfield without suffering defeat!
90' + 3'
The corner is cleared and the ball is taken up the pitch, eventually going out for a goal kick, but not after another minute runs off the clock. Last chance here for Liverpool to salvage something.
90' + 2'
A long string of passes just outside the area from Liverpool as the pressure continues to mount on the Villa goal. Borini wins a corner and there is still some belief echoing through Anfield...
90' + 1'
Four minutes to be added on here....
Very wasteful from Coutinho. All second half he has been trying to get the ball onto his right foot for a shot. He was unlucky to hit the post, but it was his only attempt that hit the target. Again he does the same, from distance, and his attempt sails well over the bar.
Villa can see the finish line and it seems to have given them a bit of energy here, as Liverpool get more and more discouraged. A few throw ins and some dribbling near the by-line allow Villa to kill more time off the clock. They're ever so close now.
Frustration continues to grow for Liverpool as Manquillo is called for an offside. Henderson lashes out at the linesman, but it was the right call. Villa have a free kick to waste more time, and now will make a substitution as they look to milk the final five plus minutes off the clock.
STAT ATTACK: Liverpool and Aston Villa have split their last seven meetings in Merseyside, winning two a piece while drawing the remaining three.
SO UNLUCKY! Coutinho does what he does best, dribbling his way into space and trying to curl a shot inside the far post, but it strikes off the upright! The rebound falls to Sterling, but his shot strikes the back of Henderson and Villa finally clear. Liverpool come one inch away from equalizing.
Another chance for Liverpool from a set piece as Keiran Richardson takes out Alberto Moreno along the left. The ball is sent in with even more pace, and headed behind for a corner that results in nothing.
WHAT A CHANCE! Cissokho with a horrendous miscue, which looks to have sent Sterling through on goal. The young forward fails to get a good first touch, however, and the ball runs to Guzan. Glorious opportunity wasted there by Liverpool.
Yellow Card Alberto
Free kick to Liverpool whipped into the area by Gerrard, but cleared. It only goes as far as Henderson who sends another ball in. Lovren rushes back in to attack in and takes out Guzan with a hard mid-air collision. Frustration starting to set in for Liverpool.
Possession, possession and more possession, but nothing to show for it. Liverpool still looking a bit stale in attack, seemingly out of answers as to how to break down this Villa side. Cleverley gets back to dispossess Henderson and then Gerrard commits a foul as yet another move fizzles out.
Ricky Lambert and Fabio Borini enter the match from Liverpool, as Rodgers goes for broke. Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic are the ones to give way. Just 20 minutes remaining for Liverpool to find an equalizer.
STAT ATTACK: Liverpool have failed to score just once in their last 31 league matches.
Coutinho is taking charge of matters now in attack. He's dribbling past defenders at will, but he is perhaps a bit too selfish here. Some lovely work got him into the area, but he tries to do too much as he is eventually dispossessed and the ball goes back the other way.
Patient build-up from Liverpool, which has not worked for them so far. Villa committing so many men back in defence, that it is hard to find a way through this way. The hosts best chances have come on quick, positive attacks. Sterling finally decides enough is enough and has a shot from 25 yards out, but it was never headed on target.
Yellow Card Alan Hutton
Strong delivery from Gerrard, whipped in with real pace, but Guzan comes out bravely to fist it away from danger. Nonetheless, the Kop has come to life with the introduction of Sterling.
Immediate impact from Sterling as he forces Hutton into a bad tackle, just to the left of the area, and this one has not gone over well amongst the Liverpool players. It is a yellow card for Hutton, who could not keep track of the speedy 19-year-old.
Here he is, Raheem Sterling enters the game now for Liverpool. Will he be the difference maker? Adam Lallana is the one who gives way, although he has been one of their most active players in attack. It could be a matter of fitness for the debutant, as he has just returned from injury.
For all the possession Liverpool have had - 87 percent in the second half - they have not created a legitimate scoring chance yet. Credit to Villa for the work they have put in defensively, without their leader Ron Vlaar at the back.
Lallana is really coming into his own as this match progresses. He's desperate to get a goal. Some nice work to get by Cleverley earns Liverpool a corner, but nothing comes of it.
STAT ATTACK: Mario Balotelli has six goals in for career games against Aston Villa.
Relentless pressure from Liverpool as Villa struggle to get and keep possession. The visitors are defending well collectively, but they cannot keep this up for another 40 minutes without conceding a goal.
There is a little bit more intent in the way Liverpool have come out attacking in this second half, and the crowd senses it. Coutinho sends a ball forward for Gerrard, but it's put behind for a corner. The delivery is good, but Henderson's header at the near post is poor, as it sails well over the bar and out of harm's way.
Early corner for the hosts after a quick move. Markovic picks out Coutinho, but his powerful first time shot is blocked bravely by Cleverley and goes behind for a corner.
Liverpool get us underway in the second half. No changes at the break, despite Sterling being fit and ready to play if needed. Well, at the moment it certainly appears as though he is needed.
STAT ATTACK: Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in their past eight home matches – a 4-0 victory over Tottenham in March of last season.
Villa have defended very well as a whole, but there is space to be had for Liverpool along the flanks, especially behind Cissokho. They just have to commit men forward and take a few risks. Villa committing men to defend, meaning Liverpool have to match those numbers when they get forward - something they have yet to do through the opening 45 minutes.
HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-1 ASTON VILLA. This is shaping up a lot like last year's meeting between the two teams at Anfield, where after a fantastic start and early lead for the visitors, Liverpool came on strong and found themselves down a goal at the break. Can they find their breakthrough this time around?
45' + 1'
Brilliant tackle by Baker! Sako sends an incredible ball over the top to pick out the run of Moreno. The Spaniard is behind the defence, but from a tight angle he tries to pass across the face of goal for Markovic. However, Baker does excellent to recover and slide in from behind to break up the pass. And with that, we have reached half-time.
Super from Mario! He has a shot at goal from an awkward angle, but a slight deflection nearly allows it to dip over Guzan and in at the far post. It ends up falling wide and Liverpool settle for a corner. One minute to be added on here...
LALLANA INCHES AWAY FROM AN EQUALIZER! Balotelli takes a long pass forward, shields off Baker and lays it off for Lallana. He collects well and lets fly from 25 yards out, but his effort swerves just wide of the post. Agonizingly close for Liverpool.
Lallana back in defence. Delph and Agbonlahor link up well, but the debutant provides good cover for Moreno as he gets in to intercept and break up the counter.
Coutinho is drifting into a deeper lying role in order to get the ball, which is hurting Liverpool as they get forward. They just seem to be lacking a bit of pace and urgency. Their best moves have come from quick attacks, not after prolonged build-up play.
The Villans break and win themselves another corner. The delivery towards the far post is good, but Henderson does just enough to nick it away from an onrushing Senderos.
Villa defending for their lives. After such an encouraging start, they have gone into their shell and are now focused primarily on defending. They were giving Liverpool all sorts of problems early on, so there is really no excuse for getting away from their gameplan because of the early goal.
LALLANA! Brilliant from Liverpool. Their build-up play is absolutely mouthwatering. Coutinho sends a lovely little pass over the top to Henderson, who does well to flick a header back for Lallana. The debutant hits it first time, but an important block sees the chance go begging.
Lovely movement from Balotelli off the ball as he looks to get in possession. He finally gets in and sends a cleverly chipped ball in for Moreno, but the pass was just a bit late as it is called back for offside.
STAT ATTACK: Aston Villa have opened the season without a loss through their first three games for the first time since 2011.
Nice spell of possession but Liverpool are being let down by their final balls at the moment. The game is being played predominantly in the Villa half in the last five minutes, so it's much more encouraging from the hosts - but they need some more creativity in the final third.
PENALTY?! NOTHING GIVEN! Lovely bit of skill by Lallana to split two defenders. Hutton rushes across and Lallana goes to ground, but he simply tripped over the ball. Good non call from the referee. Not a penalty, nor a dive.
The Anfield faithful urging their team on after a rather sluggish start. They finally have a decent spell in possession but have not managed to break Villa down quite yet. A goal would do wonders for them, as the visitors seem to be riding a wave of confidence at the moment.
Senderos gets away with one here as he kicks Balotelli and takes him out away from the play. It has gone unnoticed, much to the dismay of the Italian striker. It was right in line with the assistant, so there is really no excuse for missing that one.
Weimann commits a foul on Balotelli, which gives Liverpool a chance from a free kick. Gerrard's delivery is poor, however, as he fails to beat the first man allowing Villa to clear.
Another corner for Villa, as Liverpool really struggle early on here. The initial clearance falls for Weimann, who has a ton of space near the top of the area, but he cannot quite get his footwork right as his shot is deflected behind for another corner - the fourth of the game for the visitors.
STAT ATTACK: The last six head to head meetings between the two teams at Anfield have seen 13 first half goals, while their past 15 matches now in Merseyside have had at least one first half goal.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR A SECOND! Lovren lets Senderos go yet again, and the Swiss defender has a free header, but sends it over the bar. He can't believe he's missed it! Mignolet, meanwhile, absolutely furious with his defenders.
Yellow Card Adam Lallana
Nasty challenge from Adam Lallana who receives the first yellow of the match. It has been coming, really. He looks frustrated, as he slides rather cynically into the feet of Cleverley, taking him out late.
Liverpool right back in attack to win a corner of their own through Markovic. Sakho gets on the end of the cross, but cannot muster enough power behind his header and Guzan collects easily.
Goal Gabriel Agbonlahor
Agbonlahor is the one who wins the corner, then finishes it off seconds later. Westwood's delivery is met by Senderos, who heads it, likely accidentally, into the feet of Agbonlahor who makes no mistake!
ASTON VILLA IN FRONT THROUGH GABBY AGBONLAHOR!
MARKOVIC! Brilliant move from Liverpool. Henderson lofts a lovely ball towards Markovic, who flicks on to Manquillo in space. The right-back crosses back in for the Serbian, but his header glances wide. Balotelli was streaking in, and perhaps Markovic would have been better off letting him get his head to that cross.
Hutton is very eager to get forward early on, giving Lallana plenty to deal with. He commits a foul and Aston Villa have a free kick from 40 yard out. Westwood delivers and Henderson puts it behind for a corner.
Early chance for Villa as Moreno's slip allows Hutton to send a ball across the face of goal. Lovren reads it well, though, and slides in to clear. Important challenge from the Croatian.
Aston Villa kick-off and we are underway in Merseyside! The visitors, wearing their all white kits, are moving left to right, with Liverpool in all red.
The players get themselves ready for the match as 'You'll Never Walk Alone' blasts through the loudspeakers. Just seconds from kick-off at Anfield!
STAT ATTACK: Aston Villa have not lost in their last three trips to Anfield, winning once and drawing twice. They let a 2-0 lead slip away last season, as a Steven Gerrard penalty forced a share of the spoils.
Ron Vlaar misses the match due to injury, which is a big blow to Paul Lambert's side. Nathan Baker starts in his place, while Tom Cleverley makes his Aston Villa debut after joining the team on loan from Manchester United.
ASTON VILLA SUBS: Okore, Bacuna, Bent, Sanchez, N'Zogbia, Given, Grealish.
ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Guzan; Hutton, Senderos, Baker, Cissokho; Cleverley, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Weimann, Richardson.
Just one unexpected change for Brendan Rodgers, with Raheem Sterling taking a seat on the bench, being replaced by Lazar Markovic. Mario Balotelli starts up top with Daniel Sturridge injured, while Adam Lallana makes his Premier League debut for the Reds.
LIVERPOOL SUBS: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Lambert, Leiva, Borini, Sterling.
LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Manqillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson; Markovic, Coutinho, Lallana; Balotelli.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at the starting line-ups:
Aston Villa have enjoyed a stellar start to their campaign, but face their toughest test of the season this evening. Their stern defence, which has allowed just one goal through the first three games, will be tasked with stopping Liverpool’s high flying offense at Anfield. The Villans were superb on their visit here last season, earning a hard fought 2-2 draw – although this time around, they will be without their esteemed Belgian striker, Christian Benteke.
Liverpool will have to keep their focus to avoid dropping points, as they get set to kick off their first Champions League campaign in five years on Tuesday. Liverpool avenged a 3-1 loss at the hands of the defending champions by dismantling a feeble Tottenham team at White Hart Lane on the last match day. The spotlight will no doubt be on Mario Balotelli this evening, who makes his Anfield debut with his new club. He will have to be in fine form, as Liverpool learned Daniel Sturridge would be sidelined for an extended period of time after picking up a thigh injury training with the national team.
Good afternoon Premier League fans around the world, and welcome to Anfield, where Liverpool get set to conclude Saturday's action as they play host to Aston Villa in an unlikely top five matchup. I am Alex Moretto and I will be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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