Slick Sturridge downs Villa

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:25

Slick Sturridge downs Villa

The Reds’ record at Villa Park heading into Saturday’s clash made for impressive reading, and it proved to be another productive evening for Brendan Rodgers’ side in the Midlands.

In-form Sturridge, who also grabbed the winner against Stoke City on the opening day, was the difference between the two sides, with his ability to skip around Antonio Luna and Brad Guzan providing him with an opportunity to poke into the roof of the net after 21 minutes.
Villa manager Paul Lambert handed full debuts to summer signings Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna, while Rodgers kept faith with the starting XI who saw off Stoke.
Both sides looked to feel each other out inside the opening 15 minutes, with the visitors showing the greater incision, although neither goalkeeper was forced into action.
Philippe Coutinho sent an effort high and wide after good work down the left by Jose Enrique as the Reds started to dominate possession.
And it was no surprise when they made the breakthrough after 21 minutes.
Sturridge started the move before losing his marker, Okore, and when Enrique’s pass from the left was dummied by Coutinho on the edge on the area, the former Chelsea striker showed great footwork to evade two defenders as well as Guzan and convert.
The goal only further boosted Liverpool’s confidence while the hosts were chasing shadows at times.
With the home faithful becoming slightly frustrated, Bacuna sent Villa’s first effort harmlessly wide after 32 minutes before Christian Benteke’s control let him down at a crucial moment.
Openings
And then, with half-time approaching, Villa had two decent openings.
Benteke finally forced Simon Mignolet into action, tipping the Belgium international’s effort around a post, before Andreas Weimann saw his shot deflected narrowly over the crossbar.
Lambert’s side started the second half with more purpose and, roared on by a sell-out Villa Park crowd, Ashley Westwood twice fired over from distance.
Importantly, however, Mignolet was barely troubled by the time Liverpool boss Rodgers handed a debut to new loan signing Aly Cissokho in the 69th minute.
Benteke and Weimann then headed wide before an unmarked Gabriel Agbonlahor volleyed off target from 12 yards having been presented with a great chance to level.
Matt Lowton finally forced Mignolet into action from long distance before Liverpool’s summer signing from Sunderland produced a superb 86th-minute stop to keep out Benteke.
Karim El Ahmadi headed on to fellow substitute Nicklas Helenius and he found Benteke, whose powerful drive was brilliantly pushed around a post by Mignolet – ensuring Villa have now beaten the Reds just once in their last 16 Premier League meetings at Villa Park.

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