Anfield played host to an exciting Premier League fixture on Saturday – with the hosts needing three points to maintain any hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. The Reds would be without Jurgen Klopp on the touchline however, as he serves a ban for previous comments about refereeing standards.
LIV: Alisson; Robertson, Van Dijk, Konate, Alexander-Arnold; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Diaz, Gakpo, Salah
AVL: Martinez; Digne, Mings, Konsa, Cash; D. Luiz; Kamara; Ramsey, McGinn, Bailey; Watkins
The opening fifteen minutes was a rather dull affair, with neither side able to produce any clear-cut chances to take the lead. Aston Villa were awarded a penalty soon after though as Ollie Watkins was hauled to the ground inside the area by Ibrahima Konate – but the forward placed his spot-kick wide of the post to squander a great opportunity.
The visitors took the lead regardless in the 27th minute, as Jacob Ramsey leapt between two Liverpool defenders to tuck the ball into the back of the net with a diving header. Douglas Luiz’s cross was excellent – and the hosts trailed!
Luis Diaz could have brought Liverpool level just over ten minutes later, attempting to find the back of the net with a headed effort – though it sailed just wide of the post, with Martinez untested. There was still to be late drama in the half though, as the hosts appealed for Tyrone Mings’ yellow card to be upgraded to a straight red as he caught Cody Gakpo in the chest. Their calls were ignored though, and VAR agreed that the initial decision to award a yellow card was correct.
The Reds thought they’d found an equaliser ten minutes into the second half, as Cody Gakpo slotted home into the roof of the net following a scrappy corner routine. However, Virgil Van Dijk was involved in the build-up play and a VAR check found that he was offside – so the goal was chalked off, and Villa still held the advantage.
With 72 minutes on the clock, Roberto Firmino and James Milner were introduced. Both players would be saying farewell to Anfield, as this is their last home fixture before they leave the club in the summer. And in fact, in the 89th minute, it was the Brazilian that scored a poetic equaliser to write the final chapter in his fairytale Liverpool career. Mo Salah’s cross was well delivered, and Firmino made no mistake to slot past Martinez to keep the Reds’ hopes of European football alive.