Liverpool had to come from behind to keep their Premier League title aspirations alive after goals form Matip and Mane cancelled out the opener from Douglas Luiz. Villa, to their credit, never gave up and did have a Danny Ings goal disallowed for offside. The result means Liverpool now go level with Manchester City atop the Premier League table.
Pep Guardiola’s side still have a game in hand and the victory at Villa Park also came at a cost – Fabinho trudging off injured in the first half. But Jurgen Klopp will just be glad to have come through this test as former Reds hero Steven Gerrard certainly had Villa fired up.
How Liverpool turned it around
Liverpool, having named Mohamed Salah among their substitutes in a nod to their congested fixture list, were under pressure from the start and fell behind from the first attack amid a frenzied atmosphere. There were a series of errors in the build-up.
Kostas Tsimikas, in for Andy Robertson, tumbled to the ground and was joined by Matip, allowing Luiz to have a free header from Lucas Digne’s left-wing cross. Alisson spilt it when he might have pushed the ball away and the Brazilian put in the rebound.
Liverpool were playing football on the edge, knowing that another slip could gift the title to Man City, and when Danny Ings headed over the bark from John McGinn’s cross with Alisson off his line grasping for the ball and the goal gaping, Villa were almost ahead again.
Fabinho’s hamstring injury added to the awkwardness of Liverpool’s task and though Mane had the ball in the net – Luis Diaz was offside in the build-up – and Naby Keita spurned a clear chance, they went in level at the break with their title hopes fading.
As so often, it was Mane who came up with the key moment, his cute header from Diaz’s measured left-wing cross evading the sprawling Martinez and sparking wild scenes of celebration in the away end. It was the goal that reignited the title race.
Villa still had chances, the best falling to the former Liverpool forward Ings. Twice he was through on goal only to waste the chance before finally finishing and seeing the flag go up, much to the anguish of the Holte End. For Ings and for Villa, it was not to be their night.
For Liverpool, bigger nights lie ahead. In the FA Cup final on Saturday and in the Champions League final in Paris later this month, for sure. But maybe in the final stages of this Premier League season as well. Thanks to Mane’s goal and the resolve shown at Villa Park.