Premier League
Liverpool3Aston Villa2

Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa

Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge's first was a fine volley with the outside of his foot

Daniel Sturridge scored his first two goals since March as Liverpool beat Aston Villa in an entertaining game.

Reds midfielder James Milner opened the scoring after 66 seconds against his former club from 20 yards.

Striker Sturridge doubled their lead after the break with a volley following a one-two with Milner, but Rudy Gestede pulled one back from close range.

Sturridge scored his second from Philippe Coutinho's pass, but Gestede gave Villa hope with a fine header.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had been under pressure after six games without a win, other than Wednesday's League Cup penalty shootout victory over Carlisle.

Has this relieved the pressure on Rodgers?

Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool's title challenge two seasons ago under Rodgers seems a long time ago now

Slightly, but probably not that much.

There were plans for Liverpool fans to dress up as Jurgen Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund coach who some would like to see replace Rodgers, though there was little evidence this came to fruition.

Liverpool will be happy to have ended such a poor run and move up to seventh in the Premier League - but they were made to work for victory against one of the worst sides in the division.

The Reds played some decent football for their goals, but they were caught out by Villa twice. Their next Premier League games - against Everton, Tottenham and Southampton - could go a long way to deciding Rodgers's future.

Is man-of-the-match Sturridge back to top form?

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Sturridge goals exceptional - Rodgers

The huge boost from this game for Liverpool was the return of Sturridge's name to the scoresheet. The England international was making his second appearance since recovering from hip surgery.

While he still has some fitness to gain before reproducing the form that saw him score 24 goals in 2013-14, he was the reason Liverpool won this game.

His first strike was a brilliant volley with the outside of his foot, and the second a calm finish after a one-two with Coutinho, who backheeled the ball to him.

The 26-year-old had two chances to complete his hat-trick in the final 10 minutes. First he failed to beat Micah Richards on the edge of the box, something a fully fit Sturridge might have been able to do. Then he forced a good low save from Brad Guzan who tipped his effort past the post.

Rodgers said: "Sturridge showed what we missed for over a year - he makes the difference and helps you compete. His finishes were brilliant.

"He's nowhere near 100% fit yet. There was a couple of moments when he'd be away at his best but wasn't today. His two goals were the difference."

Can Gestede keep Villa up?

Average positions
Rudy Gestede (39) was Villa's most attacking player - but he barely played beyond the halfway line on average - as this average position graphic shows

Gestede, who replaced the injured Gabriel Agbonlahor in the line-up, was the only reason Villa - who played quite defensively - ran Liverpool so close at Anfield.

The Birmingham side, who were unbeaten on their last four trips to Anfield, have now picked up four points from seven games and drop into the relegation zone.

They had only four shots on target against the Reds, with Gestede, a summer signing from Blackburn, scoring both of his - to take him up to four for the season.

His first was a close-range scramble and his second a brilliant towering header as he beat centre-back Mamadou Sakho to a Jordan Amavi cross.

'Players are behind Rodgers'

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Villa face fight to stay up - Sherwood

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva: "We wanted to win for the manager. We know what has been said about him and I think we showed we are a group of players behind him and trying to make everything right. The pressure is on him but we wanted to play the way he wanted us to play and I think we did that."

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood: "We can't score two away from home and lose - it happened against Leicester as well. You score twice at Anfield and you expect to leave with something. I've told the boys the goals were avoidable and we have to tighten up - Liverpool did not have to work too hard to get them, and we have to put that right.

"Our performances have merited better than one win in seven games but I said from the start it would be an uphill struggle. We need to stay in the division and if we do we will be stronger next year."

The stats you need to know

  • Milner's first goal for Liverpool was the quickest Premier League strike this season.
  • There were 70 seconds between Rudy Gestede's first goal of the game and Daniel Sturridge's second.
  • Sturridge has now scored in four consecutive Premier League games against Aston Villa.
  • Since August 2013, Gestede has scored 21 headed goals in the league, six more than any other player in the English top four tiers.

What's up next?

Villa host Stoke in the Premier League next Saturday, while Liverpool are at home to Sion in the Europa League on Thursday - before Sunday's Merseyside derby at Everton.

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 23Can
  • 37Skrtel
  • 17Sakho
  • 2Clyne
  • 7Milner
  • 21Lucas
  • 18Moreno
  • 10Coutinho
  • 28Ings
  • 15SturridgeSubstituted forAllenat 90+4'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4K Touré
  • 12Gomez
  • 20Lallana
  • 24Allen
  • 27Origi
  • 33Ibe
  • 34Bogdan

Aston Villa

  • 1Guzan
  • 21Hutton
  • 4Richards
  • 16Lescott
  • 23Amavi
  • 24SánchezSubstituted forVeretoutat 60'minutes
  • 15Westwood
  • 8Gueye
  • 9Sinclair
  • 39Gestede
  • 40GrealishSubstituted forTraoréat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Clark
  • 7Bacuna
  • 17Veretout
  • 19J Ayew
  • 20Traoré
  • 25Gil
  • 31Bunn
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
44,228

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamAston Villa
Possession
Home62%
Away38%
Shots
Home21
Away10
Shots on Target
Home12
Away4
Corners
Home11
Away1
Fouls
Home8
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2.

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa).

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Joe Allen replaces Daniel Sturridge.

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jordan Veretout (Aston Villa).

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa).

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Brad Guzan.

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Danny Ings with a through ball.

Attempt blocked. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

Foul by Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool).

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adama Traoré (Aston Villa).

Attempt saved. Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt missed. Micah Richards (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Veretout with a cross following a set piece situation.

Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).

Adama Traoré (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

Foul by Danny Ings (Liverpool).

Jordan Amavi (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Brad Guzan.

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jordan Veretout (Aston Villa).

Goal!

Goal! Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Amavi with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Adama Traoré replaces Jack Grealish.

Foul by Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool).

Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 1. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

Goal!

Goal! Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 1. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alan Hutton with a cross.

Offside, Liverpool. Danny Ings tries a through ball, but Daniel Sturridge is caught offside.

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Jordan Veretout replaces Carlos Sánchez.

Goal!

Goal! Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 0. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Milner with a through ball.

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man Utd7511125716
2Man City7502136715
3West Ham7412159613
4Arsenal7412107313
5Tottenham733195412
6Leicester73311514112
7Liverpool732279-211
8Everton62318539
9Southampton723210919
10Crystal Palace63038719
11Swansea72328809
12Watford62315509
13Norwich72321112-19
14West Brom622246-28
15Chelsea72231114-38
16Bournemouth7214911-27
17Stoke7133710-36
18Aston Villa7115812-44
19Newcastle7034511-63
20Sunderland7025616-102
View full Premier League table

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