Belfast Telegraph

Villa tactics delight Lambert

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert felt his side were tactically perfect in their 1-0 win at Liverpool but denied they were over-physical in their approach at Anfield.

Gabriel Agbonlahor scored from a ninth-minute corner and Villa held on to their lead as they prevented their hosts creating anything dangerous.

Defender Philippe Senderos appeared to land a kick on Reds striker Mario Balotelli, who also came in for some rough stuff from Alan Hutton in the first half, but Lambert insisted there was nothing untoward in their approach.

"Tactically it was fantastic but you have to have lads who will carry it out and right from the off we were outstanding," he said.

"We have worked a lot on training and the lads have grasped what we are trying to do.

"It is hard coming here, a club that nearly won the league last year, a club that has Champions League football and a club whose resources are massive compared to ourselves.

"Right from Gabby (Agbonlahor) to (Brad) Guzan defensively we were immense.

"There was another goal for Gabby; he signed a new deal and has started the season brilliantly. If he can keep that form, great."

Lambert said there was nothing in the Senderos-Balotelli incident but claimed something untoward had occurred between the Italy striker and Villa's other centre-back Nathan Baker.

"I saw the one before that between Balotelli and Nathan Baker and the fourth official saw that," he added.

"It is a physical game and we are not going to be shrinking violets coming here. You have to handle the occasion and playing against top players."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, shorn of the attacking pace of injured Daniel Sturridge and opting to drop Raheem Sterling to the bench, admitted his side struggled to break down the visitors.

"It is disappointing. We started slowly, gave away a poor goal, picked up the tempo after that and the players gave everything but we lacked that bit of quality and the final ball," said the Northern Irishman

"You have to give Aston Villa credit, they defended well once they got the goal, kept their lines tight in a low block and we couldn't get the final pass so it was really frustrating for us.

"They defended well; the back four and midfield five were in and Agbonlahor on the counter-attack is always a threat.

"We started slowly which is unlike us. We have found a problem with Aston Villa in my time here. We lacked that bit of quality in the final third.

"It was just as a team we didn't have the intensity in our game. Everything was centralised and they were very compact, we needed to get around the sides a bit quicker.

"Second half was much better in terms of the domination but apart from Coutinho's little bit when he hit the post and worked the space well, we never created as much as we would normally do."

On the physicality of Villa Rodgers, who claimed he had not seen the Senderos kick at Balotelli, added: "It is a man's game and I don't think they were overly aggressive at all."

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