EPL: Lacklustre Liverpool leave it late to see off Aston Villa | Football News

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Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their first aim. (Reuters Photo)LIVERPOOL: Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones struck within the remaining 20 minutes to guarantee Liverpool marked their first match at Anfield since being topped Premier League champions with a 2-Zero win over struggling Aston Villa on Sunday.
After a 4-Zero humbling by the hands of Manchester City in midweek, Jurgen Klopp‘s males once more failed to hit the heights that made them runaway leaders earlier than a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As it occurred: Liverpool vs Aston Villa
But Mane’s candy strike off the underside of the bar and Jones’s deflected effort saved up a run of 24 consecutive league wins at Anfield for the Reds and left Villa nonetheless languishing within the backside three.
Klopp has insisted he won’t dish out appearances “like Christmas presents” within the remaining month of the marketing campaign as Liverpool eye a report factors tally in English top-flight historical past.
The German made simply three alterations from an embarrassing evening on the Etihad on Thursday as Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum dropped out, however all three had been wanted within the second half after a disappointing first hour.
In entrance of an empty Anfield, Liverpool struggled to summon their finest with the massive prize already gained and simply re-writing the report books to play for.
Villa, in contrast, are nonetheless determined for factors of their battle to beat the drop and Dean Smith‘s males had been left to rue not taking their possibilities on the counter-attack early within the second half as their winless streak stretched to 10 video games.
Pepe Reina was recalled within the Villa aim on his return to Anfield the place he spent 9 years as a Liverpool participant.
However, the Spaniard barely had a save of observe to make earlier than half-time as Liverpool struggled to break Villa down.
Indeed, it was Alisson Becker who was the busier goalkeeper because the Brazilian was compelled to parry pictures from Douglas Luiz, Jack Grealish and Anwar El Ghazi.
Klopp was compelled into introducing Henderson, Wijnaldum and Firmino to try to summon a response from his aspect within the remaining half hour.
The triple substitution shortly made a distinction when Naby Keita picked out Mane to sweep dwelling his 20th aim of the season.
Reina was lastly compelled right into a wonderful save as he dived to his left to deny Firmino his first aim at Anfield this season.
Another substitute made the sport secure a minute from time as 19-year-old Jones noticed his effort deflect previous the helpless Reina earlier than Alisson produced one other gorgeous save on the different finish to deny Grealish a comfort.