Aston Villa 3-3 Liverpool: Durán leaves Aston Villa close to singing the UEFA Champions League anthem

Jhon Durán came off the substitutes’ bench to score twice in the space of three second-half minutes to salvage what could turn out to be a precious point for Aston Villa in their race to return to Europe’s elite competition.

An all-action 3-3 draw at Villa Park now leaves Tottenham Hotspur needing to emerge victorious in their remaining matches against Manchester City and bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United to stand any chance of toppling Unai Emery’s fourth-placed side; Villa only need a point at Crystal Palace on the final day of the season to secure a record-breaking top-four finish.

As it happened

Already 3-0 victors in September’s reverse fixture, Liverpool needed no less than 120 seconds to score again as the ever-so-reliable Emiliano Martínez uncustomarily dropped Harvey Elliott’s cross over the line following a deflection off Pau Torres.

However, Liverpool’s lead lasted only 10 minutes as Youri Tielemans fired Villa level with a sublimely-struck strike from the edge of the area courtesy of Ollie Watkins’ determined run down the right-hand side – the England international’s 32nd goal involvement of the season.

Cody Gakpo survived a three-minute prolonged offside check from VAR to restore Liverpool’s advantage by converting Joe Gomez’s cross into the danger zone from close range. Somehow, Villa headed back into the dressing room trailing at half-time, with Diego Carlos inexplicably directing the ball wide of the mark despite being unmarked in front of a glaringly opportune open goal.

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Liverpool did not need long following the restart to extend their advantage as Quansah authoritatively rose above Lucas Digne to head home Elliott’s delivery for his first-ever goal in the Premier League. VAR again took centre stage at Villa Park as Watkins had a record-breaking 20th league goal ruled out for offside after Leon Bailey was deemed to have strayed marginally beyond the shoulder of Liverpool’s last defender in the build-up.

Nicolò Zaniolo forced a smart save from Alisson with the game on the brink of the final 20 minutes, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s volley was expertly tipped over the crossbar by Martínez.

But it was another of Emery’s substitutions which set up a bums-off-seats finale as Durán exquisitely manoeuvred the ball away from Alexis Mac Allister before firing a fearsome strike past Alisson.

Unbelievably, Durán brought Villa level only three minutes later, as Moussa Diaby’s ambitious effort fortuitously deflected off the Colombian international on its trajectory into the back of the net.

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Ultimately, Allison came to Liverpool’s rescue in the opening exchanges of nine minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game, as the Brazilian’s outstretched left arm palmed Diaby’s effort away from danger.

The lineups

AVL: Martínez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Luiz, Tielemans; McGinn, Bailey, Diaby; Watkins

LIV: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Quansah, Gomez; Mac Allister, Elliot, Endō; Díaz, Gakpo, Salah

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