Liverpool

Liverpool

Premier League • England

Player Ratings: Jota has discrete role in two goals as Matip and Mane help Liverpool comeback against Aston Villa

Samuel Bannister
Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota celebrate

Liverpool kept the pressure on in the title race by coming from behind to beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa 2-1 away from home.

Villa took the lead in the third minute when Douglas Luiz bundled home from inside the six-yard box. But Liverpool equalised just as quickly when Joel Matip prodded in.

In the second half, Liverpool went ahead when Sadio Mane headed in a cross from Luis Diaz.

It proved to be the winning goal, meaning they move level on points with leaders Manchester City, having played a game more.

It wasn’t their finest performance but the points are all that will count as the end of the season approaches.

As for Villa, it was just a matter of pride – and some of their players gave a decent account of themselves; others less so.

Candidates for man of the match instead mainly came from the winning side. Mane, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk particularly stood out.

Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez: Generally commanded his area well, coming off his line when necessary. 6

Matty Cash: Got forward on occasion and looked to cross when he could. Made a goalline clearance within the last 20 minutes, even if the effort may not have been on target. 6

Ezri Konsa: Misjudged a couple of things in the opening exchanges of either half before settling somewhat in composure each time. 5

Tyrone Mings: Failed to deal with a ball into the box for Liverpool’s first goal. 5

Lucas Digne: The former Everton man was in the thick of the action against his old rivals, even if not every duel went his way. Put in a good cross to help contribute to the first goal. 7

Marvelous Nakamba: On his first start since an injury in December’s reverse fixture, didn’t cover himself in glory when Liverpool scored via Matip. Settled down a bit after but carelessly lost possession in his own defensive third to give Jones a chance towards the end of the first half. Bit of a mixed bag. 5

Douglas Luiz: Showed good reactions to pounce on the rebound of his own shot when giving Villa the early lead. Looked after the ball well in midfield throughout. 8

John McGinn: Opened up useful avenues with long-range passing or crossing. 7

Philippe Coutinho: Up against his former club, began to grow in influence on the ball as the first half progressed. Showed some skills after the break but didn’t have many clear-cut opportunities to create. 6

Danny Ings: Another ex-Liverpool member of the lineup, should have hit the target with a header in the first half but failed to do so. Produced a good finish late in the game but was offside. 6

Ollie Watkins: Put himself about well but didn’t quite have enough breathing room to pounce on chances. Set up a decent one for Ings with a slide-rule pass but his strike partner couldn’t capitalise. 7

Substitutes:

Carney Chukwuemeka (on for Nakamba, 62 mins): Looked calm on the ball and unfazed by Liverpool’s stature. 6

Emiliano Buendia (on for Coutinho, 70): Got on the ball a fair bit in the midfield areas, assisting Ings’ offside goal. 6

Bertrand Traore (on for Watkins, 81): N/A


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Liverpool

Alisson Becker: Couldn’t hold on to Luiz’s initial header before Villa took the lead. Almost gave away a huge chance by passing the ball straight to Watkins midway through the first half. Did better to close down Ings to stop a one-on-one midway through the second half. 7

Trent Alexander-Arnold: His passing was generally accurate and with a good range. Went relatively close with a free kick early in the second half. Covered a lot of territory, not just down the flank. 8

Joel Matip: Ended up on the floor just before Villa took the lead but made amends by finishing at the other end soon after. 6

Virgil van Dijk: Picked the right option to play the ball back across goal for centre-back partner Matip to score. Beaten by one Coutinho dribble in the second half before recovering and winning the duel. Also caught up with an Ings one-on-one after Liverpool had gone ahead. Very tough to get past. 8

Kostas Tsimikas: Making a rare start in the absence of Andy Robertson, fell over as the ball came in for the opening goal. But impressed with his delivery when creating a big chance for Mane in the 20th minute. Made a good defensive intervention early in the second half. 7

Fabinho: Looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable in the first half, giving away some fouls and losing possession. Had to go off with a hamstring injury inside half an hour. 4

Naby Keita: Failed to deal with a cross in the buildup to the opener. Squandered a big opportunity in the first half when failing to connect cleanly with an Alexander-Arnold cross along the ground, despite being unmarked in the box. Saw a decent amount of the ball but was a bit wasteful with his passing sometimes. 5

Curtis Jones: Took aim with one effort from outside the box in the first half, but it was comfortable for the keeper. Fairly quiet otherwise. 6

Sadio Mane: Had a good chance with a header after being set up by Tsimikas but just missed the target. Was more effective with that part of his anatomy when putting Liverpool ahead beyond the hour mark. 8

Diogo Jota: Instinctively kept play alive in the moments before Liverpool’s first goal. Also played his part in the second goal by dinking Diaz on his way before the assist. 8

Luis Diaz: Not quite as effective when starting from the right. Did better when switching to the other side, setting up Mane’s goal with a delicate cross, but didn’t have too long there before going off. 6

Substitutes:

Jordan Henderson (on for Fabinho, 30): Helped Liverpool get their foot on the ball. 7

Thiago Alcantara (on for Jones, 62): Also tried to make use of possession better. 6

Mohamed Salah (on for Diaz, 72): Got up to the pace of the game quite quickly but his finishing was a bit cold. 6

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