Liverpool vs. Aston Villa  1 - 1

Article

Premier League: Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 1

7 April 2012 18:20

Luiz Suarez headed home late on to help Liverpool avoid a fourth straight league defeat with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Australian youngster Chris Herd had put Alex McLeish's side ahead after just 10 minutes at Anfield with a sweetly struck opener.

The hosts saw a couple of decent penalty appeals turned away but finally equalised with less than 10 minutes remaining through the Uruguayan, who pounced after substitute Daniel Agger had headed against the bar.

After a minute’s silence ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster next Sunday, Liverpool had the first chance of the game as Stewart Downing skipped past Alan Hutton and flashed the ball across the six-yard box for Dirk Kuyt.

The Dutchman's close-range effort was pushed out by Shay Given, though it may have crossed the line.

The hosts were punished almost immediately after when goalkeeper Doni failed to clear a high ball from Stephen Warnock, which Herd expertly curled beyond the Brazilian from just inside the box after being teed up by Barry Bannan.

James Collins headed a corner wide for Villa but Kenny Dalglish's side began to control possession as the half wore on and Martin Skrtel went close after 36 minutes, nodding wide from a Steven Gerrard set piece.

Liverpool had appeals for a penalty turned away before the interval as Suarez twisted and turned in the box and went down under minimal contact from Hutton.

The best chance of the half fell to Kuyt however, who latched onto a ball from Gerrard after a Suarez cross, but hammered it over the bar and high into the stands from point-blank range with an open goal at his mercy.

Shortly after the break Suarez went close as he glanced a Gerrard cross, but could only watch the ball bounce agonisingly off the inside of the post, before Given pushed it away from danger.

With over an hour played McLeish signalled his intent to hold onto the lead rather than enhance it, replacing Emile Heskey with Gary Gardner.

Dalglish responded, bringing on Andy Carroll for Downing, while Jonjo Shelvey was replaced by Craig Bellamy, who flashed a shot wide within seconds of coming on.

Gardner was presented with the opportunity to test Doni, but his shot was tame and straight at the stand-in goalkeeper from 20 yards.

Andreas Weimann was brought on for goal scorer Herd with the game approaching the closing stages, while Daniel Agger made his return from injury in place of Jose Enrique.

Suarez was never far from the action and was booked for simulation after going down easily for the second time following a challenge from Stephen Ireland.

With 10 minutes left two of the Liverpool substitutes went close, as Bellamy rifled into the frame of the goal after a James Collins clearance and Agger's driven effort drifted wide.

But just a minute later the hosts finally equalised, when Gerrard's cross was headed onto the bar by Agger, before Suarez stepped in to force home the rebound.

Gerrard tested Given once more late on, but Liverpool could not find a way through and had to settle for a point against a struggling Villa side.

Article

Premier League preview: Liverpool v Aston Villa

6 April 2012 21:03

Liverpool will aim to reverse their worst run of league form in 59 years when they host Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

Despite winning the Carling Cup in February, the Reds have lost six of their last seven English Premier League outings and slipped to eighth on the table, heaping pressure on manager Kenny Daglish.

With three games in eight days on the horizon, including the FA Cup semi-final against neighbours Everton, Daglish declared his side have "got to stick together" after they were defeated 2-0 by Newcastle United last week.

At the other end of the Premier League table, Villa boss Alex McLeish stated this week that 40 points should be enough to secure his side's top-flight status.

Villa have collected 33 points to date and sit five above the relegation zone, but have won only two of their last 11 Premier League starts and face further tests against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur this season.

Gabriel Agbonlahor will captain Villa for the remainder of the campaign after Bulgarian international Stiliyan Petrov was recently diagnosed with leukaemia and announced his immediate retirement as a player.

Brazilian shot stopper Alexander Doni will make his Liverpool debut in goal after Spaniard Pepe Reina was sent off against Newcastle and suspended for three matches.

Doni, 32, has occupied a spot on the bench for every minute of Liverpool's 42 games this season since joining from AS Roma and will become the first goalkeeper other than Reina to start a league match for the Reds since May 2007.

"He has played for Brazil, one of the greatest national teams in the world, so he is used to playing in big games," Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates told liverpoolfc.tv.

"He perhaps hasn't had an opportunity because obviously we have Pepe, but I think he will do well."

Charles N'Zogbia and Alan Hutton could return from injury for Villa, although whether they comeback against Liverpool or at home versus Stoke City two days later remains to be seen.

"(Physiotherapist) Alan Smith was very happy with their progress," McLeish told avfc.co.uk.

"I met Hutts passing in the corridor and I saw Charles in the treatment room. They said they feel good.

"We hope that they could be available, if not for the Saturday game against Liverpool, possibly the Monday game against Stoke."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25