Steven Gerrard will reflect on a number of glorious opportunities spurned, as Jurgen Klopp’s side were run close in a lively encounter at Villa Park.
Despite taking an early lead through Douglas Luiz, Liverpool responded within a matter of minutes, capitalising upon poor defending, with Matip equalising.
Villa were certainly competitive and carried a real threat, but Liverpool seized upon another unforced error in the second half to secure all three points.
Despite the defeat, it was a hugely encouraging display, marred only by an erratic refereeing display from John Moss. Cut out the unforced errors and sharpen our finishing; it could have been quite a different result.
VILLA PLAYER RATINGS
Made a couple of smart stops in each half and comfortable clearing up. Appeared hasty in the lead up to the Liverpool opener, charging out into no-mans land. Distribution sometimes lacking composure.
A standout display from the full-back who was relentless down the flank. Managed to retain possession against all odds on a number of occasions and ran himself into the ground over 90 minutes. At least 2 vital defensive last ditch blocks. Impressive.
Had his work cut out all evening with lots of movement from the visitors attack. However, the defender was all over the place for the opener and positionally in question for the winner.
Failed to deal with the set piece for Liverpool’s equaliser, stepping on the ball in the area in the lead up to the goal. Out-jumped by Mane moments later, only for the effort to sail just wide. As with many appearances of late, a determined physical presence, but often guilty of surrendering possession back to the opposition cheaply and lapses in concentration at crucial times.
A very high workrate over 90 minutes, and whilst a struggle defensively at times, willing to get forward and cause problems. Lacked a little precision in terms of end product, but cannot be faulted for perseverance nor intent.
Looked far more comfortable in a more advanced midfield role and rewarded with an early goal. Suffered for second half tactical change and guilty of gifting the ball to Liverpool which lead to the winner.
A battling return to the side after injury and a demonstration of the value of having a good dispruptor in the side. With that said, did the hard work on a number of occasions only to miss-place a pass back to the visitors. Was unfortunate to be pulled up by the incompetent referee Moss on more than one occasion for fair challenges.
Worked hard throughout the game but struggled to make a real impact or involvement in phases. Quiet overall and perhaps we need to see him impose himself further up the pitch.
Flashes of very neat inter-play down the left hand side and fired an effort over Alisson’s crossbar. Unable to impact the match as the game went on and replaced by Buendia. Marked closely and offered nothing in the way of protection from the useless John Moss.
Ran himself into the ground, but will rue missing golden opportunties. Headed over when well placed in the first half, but 3 second half one-one-ones sum up his mixed fortunes of late, the hardest of which he produced a sublime finish, only to see the offside flag raised.
Cleverly fashioned an early effort that Alisson managed to beat away and unlucky not to score after a later error from the keeper rebounded off his shin. Worked really hard, but met his match sandwiched between classy acts Van Dijk and Matip.
The introduction of Emi Buendia came too late and the Argentine struggled to impose himself on the game as Liverpool slipped into game management. Definitely brings an energy and once again demonstrated his outstanding passing capability; it remains a puzzle as to why he remains so under-utilised.
A miss-step from Gerrard was arguably the introduction of Carney Chukwuemeka, who replaced the tiring Nakamba. This change, though no fault of Chukwuemeka, immediately unbalanced the midfield and led promptly to the Liverpool winner. There were fleeting moments for the 18 year old thereafter, but nothing to write home about this highly rated youngster.
Bertrand Traore also appeared from the bench in the closing stages, to no notable effect.