Liverpool ensured that there was no happy return to Anfield for Steven Gerrard as Mohamed Salah’s penalty kick in the second half resulted in a 1-0 victory. Aston Villa. Gerrard said he would love to sacrifice some of his legendary status under Liverpool support for a result on his first trip to Anfield as part of the visiting squad. Villa, however, barely laid a glove on Jurgen Klopp’s men, who should have been much more convincing winners as they moved back to within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City. Gerrard was greeted with soft applause as he emerged from the tunnel, but there was no big fanfare for the man who, as a Liverpool player, scored 186 goals in 710 games.
Even a short chant of his name from the Head was drowned out by cries from “Liverpool” as the crowd focused their attention on maintaining pace with City at the top of the table.
The Reds should have been well ahead at halftime after dominating a frustrating 45 minutes.
Salah has now scored 21 goals in 22 games this season, but has shown remarkable restraint to resist a shot after the goal from Andy Robertson’s setback to enable Trent Alexander-Arnold to blow an attempt that is after the top corner was on its way until it swerved off Matt. Targett and back for a corner.
Robertson was the biggest threat to Klopp’s men, as he exploited the space he was given on the left.
The Scotland captain’s deflected header nearly misplaced Emiliano Martinez before he had two strong appeals for penalties, blown away for challenges by Marvelous Nakamba, who is already yellow.
Klopp became increasingly excited about referee Stuart Attwell’s official as Liverpool failed to show their dominance on the scoreboard.
Villa have won three of Gerrard’s first four games in charge, but could not hold the ball long enough to pose any kind of attacking threat on their own.
A slip by Alisson Becker created the visitors’ best chance of the first half, but Ashley Young failed to turn the ball further than the impressive figure of Joel Matip.
Martinez came down sharply on his left to refuse Salah just before half-time with the first of a string of fine saves by the Argentine number one.
Virgil van Dijk was next refused by the former Arsenal goalkeeper as Liverpool battled for Villa in their own half for the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Moments later, Salah twisted another attempt narrowly, but he finally made the difference for the only goal of the game at 67 minutes.
Tyrone Mings was tackled in a clumsy challenge on Salah and with the third time he asked, Liverpool got their kicking kick.
Martinez gained a reputation as a penalty specialist, but Salah’s attack was too precise for the Villa stop, even though he guessed correctly.
Going back, Villa suddenly emerged alive when Gerrard suggested Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia to offer more of an attacking threat.
And they also had a big appeal for a penalty kick that was dismissed late when Alisson’s attempt to clear Matip bounced back to his own goal and the Brazilian goalkeeper escaped unpunished from a collision with Ings.
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