Alexander-Arnold emphatically answers critics as Liverpool end Anfield woes

Steve Pearson

Trent Alexander-Arnold silenced the critics after his superb late strike handed Liverpool their first league win at Anfield in 2021.

Seeking to put their Real Madrid debacle firmly behind them, Liverpool made much the brighter start of the two. Mohammed Salah stung the palms of Emiliano Martinez early, while Diogo Jota looked threatening down the left after being chosen to start ahead of Sadio Mane.

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Aston Villa were struggling to impose their will on the contest, and almost became the architects of their own downfall.

Tyrone Mings failed to cut out a regulation pass, allowing Salah to scamper through on goal. The Egyptian beat Martinez but beat the post too as his strike dribbled narrowly wide.

Ezri Konsa registered the visitor’s first attempt on target and on reflection, should’ve done better.

The centre-half stole a march to meet a set piece but his header could only find the waiting gloves of Alisson Becker.

That one-way traffic then resumed, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota both finding the roof of the net from a free-kick and corner respectively.

The story was a familiar one for the Reds in 2021, and their frustration was soon compounded when Villa took the lead.

John McGinn picked out Ollie Watkins who showed great movement to cut inside Ozan Kabak. The striker controlled quickly and fired a low drive that squirmed between the arm and body of the out of sorts Alisson.

Liverpool looked to hit back immediately and had the ball in the net through Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian was to be denied after a lengthy VAR review adjudged Diogo Jota to have been offside in the build-up by the barest of margins.

The second half continued where the first had left off with Jurgen Klopp’s men racking up chance after chance but failing to score.

The pressure was growing and ultimately told in the 57th minute.

Andy Robertson broke free down the left and launched a powerful strike that Martinez did well to repel.

His parry fell straight to Salah, however, who made no mistake from close range to level the scores.

A third goal seemed likely, and Villa winger Trezeguet came within a whisker when rattling the post from an acute angle.

Mane replaced Firmino as Klopp shuffled his deck, but with 15 minutes to go the scores remained deadlocked.

The game lacked the flow and tempo Liverpool would have desired in the final stages as Trezeguet repeatedly struggled to shake off a knock.

Xherdan Shaqiri was thrown on for Ozan Kabak as a last roll of the dice, but it was the much-maligned Alexander-Arnold that became the unlikely hero.

Martinez produced a superb stop to deny Thiago from close range. The ball fell to Alexander-Arnold who whipped a delightful strike into the far corner to make it 2-1.