Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Reds deepen Villa woes

Steven Gerrard's penalty sealed victory for Liverpool
Steven Gerrard's penalty sealed victory for Liverpool

Aston Villa remain in the Barclays Premier League bottom three after Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1 and keep alive their faint hopes of securing a Champions League spot.

Villa looked on course for a third successive win after leading at the interval through Christian Benteke's 18th goal of the campaign.

But the Reds equalised through Jordan Henderson early in the second period and then skipper Steven Gerrard's penalty sealed victory for the visitors.

Andreas Weimann had a volley blocked but Gabriel Agbonlahor should have put Villa ahead after 17 minutes. Matt Lowton delivered a superb curling cross into the danger area which picked out the run of Agbonlahor. But the England striker turned his shot straight at Jose Reina when it looked easier to score.

Benteke had scored twice in the 3-1 win at Anfield earlier in the season and after 31 minutes he put Villa ahead. Ashley Westwood's cross was turned back by Agbonlahor to Benteke who drilled a fierce shot past Reina who got a hand on the ball but could not keep it out of the net. It was the 18th goal of the season from the Belgian international.

Liverpool needed only three minutes of the second half to get back on level terms. Philippe Coutinho's defence-splitting pass was seized on by Henderson who flicked the ball past Brad Guzan into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

Coutinho should have put Liverpool ahead in the 56th minute after beating the offside trap to run onto a pass from Luis Suarez but he dinked his shot wide of the post.

But Liverpool were not to be denied and went ahead three minutes later. Suarez was brought down in the box by Nathan Baker and the resulting spot-kick was converted by Gerrard.

Then Gerrard headed Benteke's header off the line at full stretch from a Westwood corner.

Benteke had the ball in the net in injury time but was clearly a yard offside.

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