Liverpool - Gabriel Agbonlahor's early goal gave Aston Villa an unexpected 1-0
victory over Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday that continued
their recent impressive record at Anfield.
Villa have not lost at
the ground since December 2010 and despite being camped in their own
half for long periods, they were arguably deserved winners.
scrambled home the decisive goal in the ninth minute of the game and
although Liverpool dominated the remainder of the match, they only once
forced Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan to make a save.
handed a full debut to midfielder Adam Lallana, while Mario Balotelli
made his first appearance at Anfield with fellow striker Daniel
Sturridge ruled out by a thigh injury.
Liverpool manager Brendan
Rodgers had spoken before the match about the need to "protect" Raheem
Sterling from burn out. The in-form youngster was left on the bench,
with Lazar Markovic and Philippe Coutinho expected to carry the hosts'
Aston Villa were without captain Ron Vlaar, who
had failed to recover from a calf injury, so Nathan Baker partnered
Philippe Senderos in defence, while on-loan Manchester United midfielder
Tom Cleverley made his debut.
Liverpool began purposefully and
created the first opening in the seventh minute when Javier Manquillo
crossed from the right flank for the unmarked Markovic, who weakly
headed wide from a good position.
However, it was the visitors who
took the lead from an Ashley Westwood corner shortly afterwards as
Villa punished some sloppy Liverpool defending.
was met by the head of Senderos and the ball dropped for Agbonlahor, who
reacted quickest to bundle home from close range.
Westwood posed a threat with his delivery from set-pieces and Villa
should have added a second goal when Senderos got on the end of his
free-kick, only to head over.
Liverpool dominated possession in
the remainder of the first half, but despite their neat passing, they
struggled to penetrate a disciplined Villa back-line.
seized on a knockdown from Jordan Henderson on the half-hour mark, but
Senderos made a vital block from just inside the penalty area.
former Southampton playmaker went close again when he arrowed a
long-range effort just past the post, while Alberto Moreno was sent
clear on the stroke of half-time, only to see his low cross cut out.
packed men behind the ball in the second half and Rodgers reacted with
the introduction of Sterling for Lallana just after the hour.
England international was quickly into the action and Villa right-back
Alan Hutton was fortunate to only escape with a yellow card when he
scythed the youngster down.
Despite Sterling's extra zest and
energy, Rodgers added further firepower with the introduction of Rickie
Lambert and Fabio Borini for Balotelli and Markovic.
content to sit on what they had and look to hit Liverpool on the
counter-attack, and the hosts grew increasingly frustrated as the clock
Coutinho seized on an opening with eight minutes to
go and saw a low drive bounce back off the post with Guzan beaten, but
Villa held on to secure a win that sent them up to second place behind