Liverpool vs Aston Villa final score: Reds break through Gerrard’s Villans via penalty

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Liverpool vs Aston Villa was a fistfight of the “no blood, no foul” variety, with the exception of the Mohamed Salah-won and -converted penalty that gave the Reds a 1-0 win over returning hero Steven Gerrard’s Villans at Anfield on Saturday.

[ MORE: Gerrard reacts to loss at former home Anfield ]

Salah won a penalty off Tyrone Mings and VAR did not see enough to overturn it, a recurring theme on a night that could’ve seen Sadio Mane sent off and Danny Ings awarded a late penalty to possibly level the match.

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Gerrard was cheered when he arrived to manage Villa and his players fought hard in front of star goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, but Liverpool was both vibrant and sloppy. The misfiring Reds produced a ton of chances but needed the penalty to deny Gerrard a point at his longtime home.

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The Reds keep hold of second place on the Premier League table, a point ahead of Chelsea and one back of Man City, while Villa’s 19 points are good for 12th.


Liverpool vs Aston Villa final score, stats

Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa

Goals scored: Salah 67′ (penalty)

Shots: Liverpool 20-4 Aston Villa

Shots on target: Liverpool 5-0 Aston Villa

Possession: Liverpool 63-47 Aston Villa


Three things we learned from Liverpool vs Aston Villa

1. Welcome(d) back, Steven Gerrard: Gerrard was warmly-received when he walked onto the Anfield pitch and his team’s display will do little to dissuade Liverpool supporters who view him as an eventual Reds boss. Gerrard’s team is playing much like him — skillful, decisive, fast, and more than a little nasty.  Tyrone Mings was terrific right up until he gave away a penalty to Salah which, as we’ll detail in Thing No. 2, was a tricky call given the hatchets welcomed by the referee and VAR on the night. It’s difficult to disagree with Klopp that Gerrard will one day take the reins at Anfield. And Gerrard will probably know well that the home side at Anfield (and many places) often gets the benefit of the doubt.

2. Liverpool gets the calls (pretty much all of them): Great teams sometimes get the benefit of the doubt, and Liverpool got about a half-dozen benefits of at least a half-dozen doubts in gaining a one-goal edge on its visitors. In a game where it was going to take an outright punch in the face to see a red card and several easy yellow cards were just fouls or not whistled at all, it’s surprising that Mohamed Salah was able to win the penalty that essentially won the game (only because the Reds’ failed to finish plenty on the day, it must be said).

Salah puts his hands in the air the minute he felt contact, then played the opportunity to the ground as Mings was a bit clumsy in his challenge. But if it’s a penalty than so, too, is Alisson Becker’s ungiven foul on Danny Ings late in the game (below). Sadio Mane also had a nasty stamp on John McGinn go ungiven — the Senegalese star looked to be cheeky and clever, but pulled off the act with relative genius — and Villa fans feeling aggrieved will be well understood by neutrals.

3. Martinez shines: For as well as the underdogs fought at Anfield, they needed a spectacular showing from their goalkeeper to stay in the match, and Tyrone Mings was strong outside of his conceded penalty as Villa blocked seven Liverpool shots. Martinez  made four saves on a night that Liverpool was credited with four big chances (SofaScore) and if we’re not mistaken the penalty isn’t registered as a big chance. Sensational player.

Man of the Match: Trent Alexander-Arnold

We’re seeing it with Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool, Joao Cancelo at Man City, and even Reece James at Chelsea — if you’re a team with possession against a team set up to stifle, a playmaking man on the right side is imperative in breaking down an opponent. “TAA” was everything needed and more for the Red. Even when he wasn’t supplying Mohamed Salah, his activity created space for the Egyptian on the right.


Emiliano Martinez is special

Keeping in mind that goalkeepers often need to see a lot of shots to be hailed as megastars, it’s difficult to see what Arsenal didn’t see in Emi Martinez.

The Villa keeper has been one of the best in the Premier League and maybe the world since moving to Villa Park, and he’s one of the key reasons that Liverpool needed to work so hard for their win.

Incisive Liverpool earns its goal

There is every argument in the world to be made that Mohamed Salah was looking for a penalty the moment he got 1v1 with Tyrone Mings. And disingenuous from the Egyptian or not, Villa’s Mings gave the referee every reason to think it was a penalty.

But don’t sleep on the incisive play in the build-up, as Jordan Henderson is looking to pick out a cross but quickly sees his entry to Salah. The rest is history.