Premier League
Liverpool0Aston Villa1

Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa

ASton Villa
Villa are now unbeaten in their last four league trips to Anfield
  • Villa maintain impressive recent record at Anfield
  • Balotelli makes home debut for Liverpool
  • Sterling only named on bench for home side
  • Cleverley makes first Villa outing

Gabriel Agbonlahor's early goal gave Aston Villa a battling victory at Anfield that moves them up to second place in the Premier League table.

Agbonlahor struck from a corner after nine minutes and, despite dominating possession, Liverpool were unable to break down the visitors' well-organised defence.

Villa remain unbeaten, with 10 points from their first four games giving them their best start to the season since the 1998-99 campaign, when they went on to finish sixth.

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Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa: Rodgers frustrated at sluggish Reds

Paul Lambert's side worked hard, were well organised and were good value for their win but, worryingly for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, his first attempt at rotating his newly-strengthened squad ended in a frustrating defeat.

At the start of a spell of seven games in 21 days, Rodgers' selection was partly enforced by Daniel Sturridge's injury while training with England, but the Reds manager now knows how much his side rely on the striker and fellow England man Raheem Sterling, who started the game on the bench.

Some of Liverpool's summer signings were meant to provide the initiative in their absence - with six making the starting XI.

But, although Adam Lallana enjoyed an encouraging debut and Lazar Markovic again looked lively, Mario Balotelli was anonymous on his first home start.

Brad Guzan and Dejan Lovren
Villa goalkeeper Guzan faced just one shot on target during the 90 minutes

The home side also had problems at the back and their failure to deal with Villa's threat from set-pieces was punished after nine minutes.

Philippe Senderos saw his header blocked from Ashley Westwood's corner but Javier Manquillo could not stop Agbonlahor from scrambling home the loose ball.

The Reds did not learn their lesson, and Senderos should have done better when he was left unmarked from a Westwood free-kick, sending his header over.

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Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa: Tom Cleverley was fantastic - Lambert

Villa were also looking dangerous on the break but their cause was being helped by Liverpool's lack of cohesion and cutting edge going forward.

To their credit, Villa chased and harried whenever the Reds had the ball but, with Balotelli being well-marshalled by Senderos, the home side barely threatened despite dominating possession.

Visiting keeper Brad Guzan did not have a serious save to make in the first half and things did not improve for Liverpool when Sterling was finally introduced on the hour mark either.

With Villa still defending resolutely, Rodgers went for a different approach when he sent on two strikers, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini, after 70 minutes, bringing Balotelli's unsuccessful evening to an early end.

Villains back on the straight and narrow?
Villa's return of 10 points from their opening four league games is their best tally for 16 years.
In that 1998/99 season, Villa topped the table on Christmas Day and eventually ended in sixth place.

The home side increased the pressure but a finishing touch continued to elude them, with Dejan Lovren heading over and Philippe Coutinho firing against the post.

That was the nearest Liverpool came to an equaliser, and Rodgers will need his new-look side to show a vast improvement in the final third when they face Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Liverpool manger Brendan Rodgers: "We were slow in our pressing and passing early on and gave away a bad goal, but then we upped it.

"It was a frustrating day but I think it was a combination of Aston Villa defending well and us failing to find that wee bit of quality. We had enough of the ball but could not find the penetration in the final third."

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "It is one of toughest places to come in Europe, let alone Britain, but I think we deserved the win.

"There is a lot of momentum on and off the pitch at this club, the players have been excellent as a group and the supporters have stuck with it and now our young guys are turning into young men."

Mario Balotelli and Tom Cleverley
Balotelli was making his home debut for Liverpool while Cleverley had his first outing for Villa
Gabby Agbonlahor celebrates
Agbonlahor's only other goal against Liverpool in the Premier League came back in October 2006
Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana
Sterling was unable to influence the outcome after replacing Lallana in the second half
Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert has never tasted defeat at Anfield as a Premier League manager

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Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 19Manquillo
  • 6Lovren
  • 17Sakho
  • 18MorenoBooked at 76mins
  • 14Henderson
  • 8Gerrard
  • 50MarkovicSubstituted forBoriniat 71'minutes
  • 10Coutinho
  • 20LallanaBooked at 12minsSubstituted forSterlingat 61'minutes
  • 45BalotelliSubstituted forLambertat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Jones
  • 3Jose Enrique
  • 4K Touré
  • 9Lambert
  • 21Lucas
  • 29Borini
  • 31Sterling

Aston Villa

  • 1Guzan
  • 21HuttonBooked at 63mins
  • 14Senderos
  • 2Baker
  • 23Cissokho
  • 8CleverleySubstituted forSánchezat 86'minutes
  • 15Westwood
  • 16Delph
  • 11AgbonlahorSubstituted forBentat 90+1'minutes
  • 10WeimannSubstituted forN'Zogbiaat 72'minutes
  • 18Richardson

Substitutes

  • 5Okore
  • 7Bacuna
  • 19Bent
  • 24Sánchez
  • 28N'Zogbia
  • 31Given
  • 40Grealish
Referee:
Lee Mason
Attendance:
44,689

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamAston Villa
Possession
Home75%
Away25%
Shots
Home18
Away5
Shots on Target
Home1
Away1
Corners
Home7
Away6
Fouls
Home9
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Liverpool 0, Aston Villa 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Aston Villa 1.

Foul by Rickie Lambert (Liverpool).

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Alan Hutton.

Attempt blocked. Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Steven Gerrard.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Darren Bent replaces Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Attempt missed. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Offside, Aston Villa. Brad Guzan tries a through ball, but Charles N'Zogbia is caught offside.

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

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Carlos Sánchez replaces Tom Cleverley.

Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Javier Manquillo is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

Attempt missed. Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Nathan Baker.

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa).

Booking

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).

Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Dejan Lovren (Liverpool).

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Charles N'Zogbia (Aston Villa).

Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).

Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Charles N'Zogbia replaces Andreas Weimann.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Fabio Borini replaces Lazar Markovic.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Rickie Lambert replaces Mario Balotelli.

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

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa).

Booking

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Alan Hutton (Aston Villa).

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Raheem Sterling replaces Adam Lallana.

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea4400156912
2Aston Villa431041310
3Swansea43018539
4Southampton42118357
5Man City42117437
6Tottenham42117527
7Arsenal41307616
8Liverpool42026516
9Everton4121910-15
10Leicester412145-15
11Hull31113304
12Stoke411223-14
13Sunderland403156-13
14West Ham310245-13
15QPR310215-43
16Man Utd302123-12
17Crystal Palace402258-32
18Burnley402214-32
19West Brom402227-52
20Newcastle402239-62
View full Premier League table

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