Soccer

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa score: Alexander-Arnold and Salah rescue crucial late victory for Klopp’s side

Liverpool are up into fourth in the Premier League table after a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday that was their first victory at Anfield since mid-December.

Ollie Watkins opened the scoring for the visitors on 43 minutes after being teed up by John McGinn and Roberto Firmino thought he had equalized on the stroke of half time only to be ruled offside. Mo Salah did eventually level for Jurgen Klopp’s men after 57 minutes and Trent Alexander-Arnold made sure of the points with a superb late effort.

The result gives the Reds new momentum in the Premier League and a confidence boost as they try to overcome Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg lead. For Villa, though, it was a deflating result after leading and having the chance to at least return to Birmingham with a point.

Some winners and losers.

Winner: Trent Alexander-Arnold

At a time when his potential involvement with England’s squad for this summer’s European championship is being debated, the 22-year-old came up big for Liverpool to keep them in the hunt for Champions League qualification via the Premier League with his late winner. Granted, inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s final group (he was at Anfield to watch) will depend on more than just a great goal, but it was the much-needed boost that the young right-back has been in desperate need of lately.

Loser: Trezeguet

Before Alexander-Arnold’s superb winner and just after Salah’s equalizer, the Egypt international had a great chance to put Villa back in front and was denied by the post with an outside of the foot effort. Unfortunately, Trezeguet’s afternoon would end badly with an injury that eventually required him to make way for young Jacob Ramsey just moments before the hosts scored their crucial second goal of the game.

Winner: Jurgen Klopp

His Liverpool side ended their dire recent run at Anfield with a first win since Tottenham Hotspur back in mid-December and just at the right time to keep them in the hunt for European qualification with the Champions League complicated after their first leg loss to Real Mardid. The Reds could still finish in the UCL spots in the Premier League if they can build on this result and start recovering their home form.

Loser: Dean Smith

As fortuitous as it was, Villa were in a leading position and threw it away by wasting their chances to add to Watkins’ opener and Smith will once again face questions about his team’s over-reliance on Jack Grealish. The talismanic captain was not missed as sorely as he often is, but Villa still lack the sort of killer instinct we see from them more often when the England international is available.

Winner: Ollie Watkins

Scorer of Villa’s opener, England boss Gareth Southgate watched on as Watkins continues to be a bright spot for Villa as their form fades away and his latest goal will have only helped his chances of keeping his place with the Three Lions as we head towards this summer’s Euros. The 25-year-old is edging towards the 15-goal mark and that represents a healthy debut season after his move from Brentford which should finish with continued international recognition.

Loser: Roberto Firmino

Unlucky to see his effort at the end of the first half ruled out in confusing fashion, the Brazilian’s subdued form continues — even if it is perhaps not as worrying as Sadio Mane’s declining numbers. On another day, Firmino would have been celebrating but the 29-year-old was denied and so remains with just one goal since back in December when he scored in the 7-0 rout of Crystal Palace.



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