Liverpool moved up to sixth in the Premier League table with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa in a highly entertaining match at Villa Park.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for Liverpool after just five minutes and Jurgen Klopp’s side doubled the lead late in the half when Virgil van Dijk’s shot was deflected into the far corner of the net. But Villa’s attack in the second half threatened to come back.
Ollie Watkins halved a deftly placed header and chances continued to flow at both ends in a wide open contest with Darwin Nunez being particularly wasted. But the ‘cheeky teenager’ Stefan Bagšić, as his manager called him after the game, came off the bench to score his first first-team goal and seal the points for Liverpool.
Aston Villa: Olsen (7), Young (7), Konsa (6), Mings (6), Dean (7), Luiz (7), Kamara (7), McGinn (7), Buendia (7), Watkins (7), Bailey (6).
Submarines: Ings (unavailable), Coutinho (unavailable), Dendoncker (unavailable).
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (6), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (8), Fabinho (7), Thiago (6), Henderson (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Nunez ( 7), Salah (8).
Submarines: Elliott (6), Keita (6), Gomez (6), Bagsetik (8), Duak (unknown).
Match player: Mohamed Salah.
The result was Unai Emery’s first defeat in the Premier League since he replaced Steven Gerrard and there were certainly positives for the Spaniard. But such is the potency of this Liverpool team, that he shines with Salah and the rest always seemed to be a risk.
How did Liverpool beat Villa?
Liverpool were on their way to a third successive Premier League win for the first time this season early in the game thanks to Salah’s stunning goal and it was amazing. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s awful pass found Andy Robertson set up Salah.
It was a reminder of how Liverpool can rip through the opposition with such quality and with Villa opting for a high defensive line, there were chances throughout. But the hosts caused a lot of problems at the other end – and he made a great game.
Emiliano Martinez has been absent from Aston Villa due to Argentina’s World Cup celebrations with Robin Olsen as deputy. Ashley Young, Olly Watkins and Leon Bailey also featured Matty Cash, Danny Ings and Jacob Ramsey with the four changes from the win against Brighton.
Jurgen Klopp made three changes to the Liverpool team that defeated Southampton before the break, as Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Joe Gomez, Harvey Elliott and Roberto Firmino. This was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first Premier League appearance in 10 months.
Watkins missed two chances while Leon Bailey missed a corner when he was in a good position. It proved costly when Salah crossed the ball to Van Dijk to score home with his left foot, and the shot found its way past Robin Olsen after he was saved by defender Ezri Konsa.
But Villa kept coming. Watkins dodged Joel Matip to head the ball into the corner and the momentum seemed to go with Emery’s men. Nunez had to take the blame for the missing points after a number of fouls – but instead he set the main goal.
Dipping in from the left channel, the Uruguayan did well to keep the ball in play and substitute Bagcetek showed real composure to get past Olsen before beating Tyrone Mings on the line. It was difficult for Aston Villa but the quality of Liverpool showed in the end.
Who is the new “light” Spanish midfielder in Liverpool?
Analysis by Richard Morgan from Sky Sports:
Klopp’s assessment of Bagsetic’s performance at Villa Park, when the midfielder became Liverpool’s third youngest scorer in only his seventh appearance with the club, was: “He’s very nice and he’s not worried about anything.”
After a brief run on Monday night in the Midlands – Bagcicic was only on the pitch for two minutes before showing genuine composure to give his side a 3-1 lead – Liverpool fans will be keen to see more from the 18-year-old Spaniard.
Bagcetic joined the club from Celta Vigo’s youth academy in February 2021 for €250,000. Liverpool beat arch-rivals Manchester United to his signature and after impressing as a defender at both the Under-18s and Under-23s, he was called up for the pre-season tour of the first team. In Asia and Austria last summer.
The youngster – who comes from a footballer’s father with his father, Sordan, a former Serbian footballer – was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Premier League opener at Fulham in August, the same month he extended his contract at Anfield, before coming off the bench to form He made his debut in the 9-0 win over Bournemouth.
Other milestones soon followed, with Bagšetek becoming the youngest player in the Champions League for the Reds after making his début against Ajax in September, while starting his first game for the club as a midfielder in their League Cup victory over Derby County in November.
It’s No. 6 as Klopp sees Spain’s top Under-18s top international position, something that could save FSG from having to enter the January transfer market.
“They only play football and they can do it very well,” Klopp said of his new young team.
“He was a football-playing dad so the genes are there but also the demeanor, awareness and intelligence to match. It’s a pleasure to work with these boys.”
Klopp: We have to be the pain in the ass for everyone
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “I loved him. In a tough game we played a lot of good things. We weren’t ahead in every moment, especially at the beginning of the second half when Aston Villa were clearly better. We lost rhythm there, and when you lose rhythm in an intense game it’s hard to come back.
“But we found ways out of that. We had some massive counter-attacks and we could have scored the third goal much earlier. I loved the start of the game, it was really good and exactly what we wanted.
On closing the gap to the top four: “We have to be the pain in everyone’s ass. That’s the way it is. Of course, we’re the chasers.”
“We’re not in the best position, there’s a distance between us and the other teams. Maybe the top two or three are too far away, I don’t know. If they win all their games, we don’t have a chance.
But there are other teams [battling for] Champions League places at the moment and we have to do our part. This means winning football matches and we will see how close we are. The goal should be to qualify for the Champions League. So, we still have a lot of gaming to do. We all have difficult moments in matches, between matches and after them.
“We got three points today and that’s the best way to get close to those points. Of course we go for it, and no doubt about it, we don’t think we have it. Not at all, as all the teams there have done. They’ve had an exceptional season. As long as we can see them, We’ll fight to get them, that’s all.”
Emery: The result was difficult for us
“Really frustrated. We put in a lot of effort. It’s very difficult for us. I think the first half we started really well. We created chances. We didn’t score and concede two goals from set-pieces is not normal because we work well with set-pieces, the result was a bit difficult for us.” for us.
“In the second half, we needed to keep, again, our game plan and try to get chances to score and chances to come back. We played 30 minutes very well. We scored, created chances and were better than them, I think.”
Did you make the substitutions too late? “No. The most important thing I think is to keep the same position that we were talking about… Possibility of possession, not to compromise on an easy transition, and if someone loses their position, they did it, and in the second half, they reacted well.”
The hard-working Nunez splits opinion
Adam Batey from Sky Sports
Former Republic of Ireland international Andy Townsend, in joint commentary for this match, named Nunez man of the match which made sense given his love for a run, but the striker’s extravagance wouldn’t impress everyone.
Núñez jumped over the ball when it seemed to be easier to finish with his left foot and then missed a wide header when there were no signs. He kicked a shot after successfully volleying the ball into the goal and then failed to beat Olsen from close range. This was all in the first half.
His touch is so uncertain, his decision-making less than exemplary, but such is his gritty strength and appetite for action that few strikers in the Premier League are able to find themselves in positions as good as Nunez more often. It proved decisive in the end.
A final run in behind the defense led to Liverpool’s third goal. This is why the long-term outlook for Nunez’s Anfield career remains optimistic. Anyone who is able to be at the end of these many chances is sure to score goals – and lots of them.
Liverpool win in stats
- Liverpool have won three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since winning their last three in the 2021-22 season.
- Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson assisted his 54th Premier League goal in this match, making him the best assist ever among a defender in Premier League history.
- Mohamed Salah scored his fifty-fifth goal away from home with Liverpool in the English Premier League. The most shared by any Reds player, level with Michael Owen
- Aston Villa’s Watkins has scored five goals in five Premier League matches against Liverpool, two more than he has scored against any other team.
- Stefan Bagcetic scored his first Premier League goal at the age of 18 years and 65 days, becoming the third youngest goalscorer in the Premier League, behind Michael Owen and Raheem Sterling.
- Ben Doc came off the bench for Liverpool to make his Premier League debut at the age of 17 years and 45 days, becoming the youngest-ever Scottish player in the competition’s history.
FPL Stats: Aston Villa 1-3 Liverpool
|Objectives||Salah, Van Dyck, and Watkins|
|helps||Robertson, Salah, Louise|
|Bonus points||Salah (3), Van Dijk (2), Robertson (1)|
Aston Villa are back in action on New Year’s Day when they face Tottenham away from home Sky Sports Premier League.
Liverpool are not done yet in 2022. They host Leicester live on Friday night before facing Brentford on January 2. Both matches are broadcast on Sky.
#Aston #Villa #Liverpool #Teenager #Stefan #Bagcetic #decides #win #Reds #entertaining #match #Villa #Park