Reds hold out Villains at Anfield
Daniel Sturridge took some of the pressure off Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with a second-half double as Liverpool beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the Premier League.
The Reds came into this game without a league victory in just over a month. To make matters potentially worse, Villa had won two of their previous three visits to Anfield.
Rodgers‘ position had been increasingly questioned, Jurgen Klopp hotly tipped to take over from the Northern Irishman.
With this on his mind, Rodgers was pleased to welcome England forward Sturridge to the starting line up, alongside summer recruit Danny Ings. Former Villa forward Christian Benteke was absent through injury.
And it was another former Villain, James Milner, who put Liverpool ahead.
Liverpool made a fast start, taking the lead with only 66 seconds played.
Philippe Coutinho played the ball to Milner, who clipped the ball home. It was his first goal for Liverpool.
Rudy Gestede went close with a header, only just wide of Simon Mignolet‘s goal.
Ings saw an effort saved by Brad Guzan, before drifting another effort over the bar.
Emre Can failed to clear a cross by Alan Hutton, Gestede missed the chance to draw Villa level.
As the second half started, Coutinho and Nathaniel Clyne saw efforts blocked by flailing bodies, and Milner was denied by Guzan.
Liverpool doubled their lead through Sturridge, the striker finishing superbly from a Milner cross.
A crazy period followed, with three goals in four minutes.
Gestede met a right-wing cross to bring Villa back into the game.
Less than a minute later, Sturridge netted his second after a mazy dribble and finish past Guzan.
Then, Jordan Amavi swung in a cross which was finished by Gestede for his second.
Guzan pulled off smart stops to deny Sturridge a hat-trick, and also Coutinho as the Reds saw the game out.
by Steve Osborne