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Match Report : ASTON VILLA 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL

August 11, 2007
ASTON VILLA 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Saturday 11 August 2007 17:15 , Barclays Premier League

GERRARD GETS REDS OFF TO A FLYER

For the first time in five years Liverpool have got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start after an impressive 2-1 victory at Villa Park.

Steven Gerrard was again the hero, curling home an 87th minute free kick winner just seconds after Gareth Barry’s penalty had cancelled out Martin Laursen’s first half own goal.

The game appeared to be slipping away from the Reds when Barry slotted home from the penalty spot, but the genius of Gerrard again saved Liverpool and secured their first victory on the opening day since 2002.

Considering the striking options now available to Benitez it was somewhat ironic to see our first goal of the campaign crash into the net off the leg of a defender, but it was no surprise at all to see both strikers heavily involved.

After the impressive Fernando Torres had been denied a debut goal by Stuart Taylor’s fine save, the ball fell into the path of Dirk Kuyt who wasted no time in whipping the ball back across the face of goal where the unfortunate Martin Laursen inadvertently diverted the ball into his own goal.

The lead was no more than the Reds deserved after an impressive opening which could have brought a reward even earlier.

Torres fired the game’s first shot in anger over the goal after a powerful charge into the box while captain Steven Gerrard – starting in his preferred central midfield role – tested Taylor with a low drive towards the far corner.

Villa rallied after the break with Riise forced to clear under pressure after a mazy run by Ashley Young and then Nigel Reo-Coker fired wide of Reina’s goal from outside the area.

Liverpool should have doubled their lead after an hour when Gerrard latched onto Kuyt’s pass into the area but just when it seemed inevitable the ball would be nestling into the back of the net Taylor got in the way of the shot to keep it out.

The skipper had another chance midway through the half when Torres sprayed the ball wide after another clever piece of individual play, but when the ball arrived at Gerrard’s feet his first time effort was superbly stopped by an increasingly overworked Taylor.

Ryan Babel was introduced soon after to make his debut and should have made the perfect start when a glorious chance fell his way after 75 minutes, but the young Dutchman dragged his shot disappointingly wide.

Villa grabbed themselves a lifeline after 84 minutes when Jamie Carragher was adjudged to have handled in the area and Barry made no mistake from the spot, sending Reina the wrong way.

But just as the home fans were celebrating an unlikely point, Liverpool responded in the perfect fashion when Gerrard did what only Gerrard can do – and rescued the Reds with a wonderful curling, dipping free kick which found the top corner of the Villa net. Sheer class.

It may only be three points on the board after one game played, but at least the Reds have already begun to deliver on their pledge to make a flying start to the new campaign.

Teams

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Agger, Carragher, Finnan, Riise, Gerrard (captain), Alonso, Pennant, Torres, Kuyt. Subs – Hyypia, Babel, Sissoko, Itandje, Voronin

Aston Villa: Taylor, Gardner, Laursen, Mellberg, Bouma, Barry, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew. Subs – Cahill, Maloney, Harewood, Osbourne, Moore

Referee: Mike Riley

Conditions: Warm

Attendance: 42,640

Liverpoolfc.tv Man-of-the-Match: Steven Gerrard

Breakdown

16:16 GMT : Match Starts
1 min : Carew and Young get the season under way for Villa
1 min : Cracking atmosphere inside Villa Park
1 min : Pennant defends well on right-hand side
3 mins : JP getting booed every time he gets the ball, him being a former Birmingham player
5 mins : Torres gets first touch as Gerrard tries a one two. The skipper’s ball is just too heavy
6 mins : Gardner blasts one but it’s easy for Pep
8 mins : Riley gives Villa a free kick after Torres shows battling spirit down the left
9 mins : Carra outruns Carew to clear after Pennant slip up
11 mins : Great block from Carra to deny Carew
14 mins : Left wing cross from Gerrard…Riley blows his whistle for some reason
16 mins : Reds still waiting for their first shot
16 mins : Agger fouls Agbonlahor down the right
17 mins : Villa set piece comes to nothing after Riise is fouled
17 mins : Torres bursts into the box but can’t keep his shot down…that’s more like it
18 mins : Petrov through….the flag is. Phew
18 mins : JP finds some space through the middle…lays it off to Stevie…his shot is too soft to trouble Villa’s third choice stopper Stuart Taylor
19 mins : The game hasn’t really settled down yet
21 mins : Alvaro overlaps well…but his cross lacks punch
22 mins : Riley taps the ball away as Gerrard goes to take quick free kick
23 mins : Don’t be surprised to see Ryan if things carry on like this
24 mins : Torres again called up for a foul. He’s the further forward of the strikers but isn’t getting much of the ball
25 mins : Randy Learner has had a Villa tattoo on his ankle, we’ve just been told
26 mins : Lovely ball through the Villa defence by SG but Kuyt just can’t get through. Nice that, though
26 mins : First Booking: Olaf Mellberg:
28 mins : Kuyt to Pennant…great ball in to Torres at the back post…but Mellberg heads clear
30 mins : Torres nutmegs Laursen but shoots wide from tight angle…promising
31 mins : Own Goal! Martin Laursen: Laursen hits Kuyt cross into his own net
35 mins : Left wing cross from Riise…Kuyt is there but can’t get a connection
36 mins : Reds well on top now…Gerrard spreading some lovely passes about
37 mins : Good build up play from Kuyt and Riise…Gerrard gets it on the edge of the box but his shot is over
39 mins : Gaz Barry hits one…teammate Nigel RC deflects it clear
40 mins : Gardner cross…Reina is stranded but Nigel can’t get a decent shot in
42 mins : Petrov free in the box…hits one…straight at Pep
43 mins : Martin Laursen is Liverpool’s top scorer – but has he got what it takes to be our 20-goal a season man?
45 mins : One minute added time
17:03 GMT : Half Time Reached
17:19 GMT : Second Half Begins
46 mins : Substitution: Gary Cahill for Martin Laursen: Laursen feels sick, apparently…it’s no wonder
46 mins : Torres and Kuyt kick off second half
46 mins : Riise tries one…wide
47 mins : Torres crosses…Riise just gets his head on it but it’s over
48 mins : Young crosses…scramble in Reds box…Riise clears
49 mins : Finnan fouls down the right
51 mins : Young gives Riley a mouthful after he’s fouled by Finnan
51 mins : Finnan heads free kick clear
52 mins : Nigel has a punt but he snatches at it
52 mins : O’Neill doesn’t look happy
53 mins : Dirk has a pop from 25 yards…just wide
54 mins : Young is down after late challenge from Jermaine
56 mins : First Booking: Jermaine Pennant:
58 mins : First Booking: Wilfred Bouma: Bouma lunges at Pennant
59 mins : Pennant reacts to Bouma challenge…he has to be careful…Xabi comes and breaks things up. Well done Xabi
60 mins : Riise’s taking the free kick…it’s too far out, surely? Yep…well over
61 mins : Carra slips in his own box…Riley gives a free kick to us
62 mins : The Villa fans are calling Riley names
63 mins : Gerrard looks certain to score from close range…ouch, the shot hits Gardner right where it hurts. You’ve got to feel sorry for the lad
64 mins : Kuyt swings his left foot at one after good lay off from Torres…over
65 mins : Carew goes down in the box but the linesman has already flagged
67 mins : First Booking: Gareth Barry: Barry booked for diving. Xabi never touched him!
69 mins : Nice ball from JP to Stevie but the skipper is denied by Taylor
70 mins : Torres looks like he got an elbow…he’s not making a meal out of it – good lad
31 mins : Good defending from Alvaro
71 mins : Substitution: Luke Moore for Wilfred Bouma:
72 mins : Wilfred doesn’t look happy about coming off
72 mins : Ryan’s getting stripped off
73 mins : Will it be JP coming off?
74 mins : Substitution: Ryan Babel for Jermaine Pennant:
75 mins : Babel to Kuyt…back to Babel in the box…oh he could have scored…just wide.
79 mins : Babel’s cross is blocked…Gerrard gets it but his shot is over
79 mins : Substitution: Andriy Voronin for Fernando Torres:
80 mins : Torres has had a good debut
80 mins : Voronin’s first touch is a hand ball
80 mins : O’Neill is complaining at the amount of time the substitutions are taking
81 mins : The game is really stretched now
81 mins : Babel blasts one…that stung Taylor’s hands
82 mins : O’Neill’s head looks like it’s about to explode after Villa are denied a throw
83 mins : Barry crosses…it’s dangerous…Carew beaten to it
84 mins : Villa pen…Carra handballed. Come on Pep
85 mins : First Booking: Pepe Reina:
85 mins : Penalty Scored! Gareth Barry: Barry sends Reina the wrong way after Carra handball
87 mins : GOAL! Steven Gerrard: OH MY GOD…brilliant free kick from the skipper to put the Reds back in front. I love you Stevie
88 mins : First Booking: Stilian Petrov:
90 mins : Substitution: Momo Sissoko for Dirk Kuyt:
90 mins : Villa corner…it comes to nothing
90 mins : Four minutes stoppage time
90 mins : Tidy save from Reina after Carew beats his man in the air
90 mins : Come on Riley, blow your whistle
18:08 GMT : Match Over

From Liverpool FC.TV

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