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Tuesday, 7 December 2010
LIVERPOOL 3-0 ASTON VILLA MATCH REPORT
Liverpool had to win this game to keep in touch after another defeat away to Spurs last week. With the return to Anfield of former manager Houllier it was sure to be an emotional evening, as he is still fondly remembered here. With Villa struggling for form at the moment and like Liverpool with injuries, serious hopes of a home win here.
The youngsters that played in Bucharest on Thursday I'm sure were resigned to the fact that more experienced players would be used for this match. With Gerrard, Carragher and Torres with a late call off due to his wife going into labour, meant that this would be far a more difficult match than anticipated. Skrtel, Johnson and Konchesky came back into defence after Thursday's absence. In midfield Maxi, Kuyt, Meireles and Lucas came in. Good to see two up front again in the form of Babel and N'Gog. Great to see Babel getting another chance after his good performance on Thursday night.
Liverpool started well and in only the second minute when a Meireles cross from a free kick caused problems in the Villa penalty area, resulting in Kuyt firing a volley high and wide. There looked a real sharpness about Liverpool as they passed the ball about well. Liverpool were rewarded with their good play in the 14th minute when a corner was headed back across goal by Martin Skrtel and David N'Gog dived to header the ball into the net giving Liverpool a deserved lead. Then only two minutes later Liverpool doubled their lead when a clever ball by Lucas over the top of the Villa defence found Babel, looking slightly offside turned and shot first time low past Friedel into the far corner of the net, it was a superb finish. Liverpool were bouyed by this and kept their passing game going with Villa not threatening at all. Kyrgiakos should have done better on the half hour mark when he headed over from a corner. The lively Babel almost scored right on half time with a curling shot just past the post after a clever pass by Meireles. So Liverpool went in 2-0 to the good at the half.
The second half started with Villa pushing a bit more and Liverpool sitting back a little hoping for a counter attack. Then in the 53rd minute came the turning point of the match when Downing got free down the left and cut the ball back to Agbonlahor who was brilliantly denied by a point blank save from Reina. Then only two minutes later Liverpool counter attacked with N'Gog racing down the left and unselfishly played the ball to the supporting Maxi and he brilliantly side footed the ball into the top corner of Friedel's net giving him no chance. It was a superb goal from one end of the park to the other and it was the killer goal. Liverpool really played now with so much confidence and had more chances. Johnson after a mazy run hit a great shot which Friedel did well to save. Two minutes later Johnson had another shot but this time he blazed over. Kyrgiakos met another corner kick with his head only to see it cleared off the line by Hogg defending the back post. So Liverpool had to settle for 3-0 but it was an impressive performance with so many key players missing.
I thought this would be very tough to get a win especially with so many key players missing and with the added late call off to Torres. But the team played very well and could have scored more. The only player I could criticise was Kuyt as his touch and passing was very poor at times but as usual his workrate is very important. Johnson had a very good defensive display with some good covering and tackles. Kyrgiakos and Skrtel were dominant with Konchesky looking solid on the left. Lucas and Meireles were superb in the middle really controlling the game. Maxi played well down the left with a superb goal. N'Gog and Babel played well together and caused Villa many problems and great to see both players scoring. It really was a great team performance and very encouraging to see others stepping up to the plate. Great to see Reina get his 100th clean sheet making him the quickest goalkeeper in the club's history to do this.
Man Of The Match - Meireles So many good performances but I give it to Meireles, his passing and workrate was immense and he never gave the ball away all night, he really had a superb game and he is getting better with every game.