Sadio Mane salvages last-gasp victory for Liverpool against valiant Villa
The Reds had to wait until added time to secure a vital three points in the Premier League title race.
Sadio Mane rescued Liverpool as the Reds’ late show at Aston Villa maintained their title charge.
The forward’s stoppage-time header earned a thrilling 2-1 win just as Jurgen Klopp’s side looked like losing their unbeaten Premier League record.
Andrew Robertson had equalised with just three minutes left to cancel out Trezeguet’s first-half opener for the hosts.
Klopp saw his unbeaten side maintain their six-point lead at the top after Manchester City’s 2-1 comeback win over Southampton.
What a finish! What a team! 👊— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 2, 2019
UP THE REDS! 🔴 pic.twitter.com/aKMHjeiqf6
The top two face off at Anfield next Sunday after they both narrowly avoided upsets on Saturday.
VAR had earlier created more controversy when Roberto Firmino’s first-half strike was ruled offside, forcing the Premier League to clarify the decision at half-time.
Liverpool’s last visit to Villa Park saw them thump Villa 6-0 with the hosts waving the white flag en route to an embarrassing relegation three years ago.
But they faced a different, resurgent Villa this time, underlined by the way Anwar El Ghazi bundled his way through to fire at Alisson Becker after 31 seconds.
The hosts pressed and hassled Liverpool in the first half but the visitors, who had been subdued, should have opened the scoring after 16 minutes.
The Reds had barely threatened yet carved out the best early chance when, from Jordan Henderson’s lobbed cross, a stretching Mane headed wide from six yards.
A minute later Tom Heaton pushed away Mohamed Salah’s angled volley, only for Villa to take the lead after 21 minutes.
Mane brought down John McGinn and the midfielder’s delicious free-kick caught Liverpool cold to allow Trezeguet to volley in at the far post.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot deflected over in response before Liverpool looked to have levelled just before the half hour.
Mane’s cross was tapped in by Firmino but he was flagged offside – and although VAR replays suggested the Brazilian was onside the decision stood.
At the break the Premier League stated on Twitter Firmino’s armpit was ahead of Tyrone Mings.
Salah ballooned over two minutes before half-time as Liverpool tried to raise their game after the interval.
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino was flagged offside before putting the ball in the net against Aston Villa and the decision was confirmed by VAR— Premier League (@premierleague) November 2, 2019
The red line signifies Firmino and was aligned to his armpit, which was marginally ahead of the last Villa defender#AVLLIV pic.twitter.com/a2OnNWnz2E
Georginio Wijnaldum and Mane shot at Heaton but the Reds’ attack struggled to find the same wavelength.
Henderson’s poor ball snuffed out a breakaway chance and Salah’s wayward effort showed their lack of cutting edge at Villa Park.
Heaton blocked from Mane at the far post and Salah was withdrawn with Wijnaldum with 25 minutes left.
Liverpool continued to press and Adam Lallana blew a golden chance to level 18 minutes from time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s introduction had added extra impetus and his cross found the onrushing Lallana, only for the unmarked midfielder to mishit his shot wide from eight yards.
Battling Villa refused to buckle, putting their bodies on the line to keep Liverpool at bay – until the 87th minute.
Mane’s deep cross found the unmarked Robertson and the Scot headed in at the far post from close range.
Then, in the fourth minute of injury time, Mane glanced in Alexander-Arnold’s corner to win it.