VIDEO: Torres lifts Liverpool with late show at Aston Villa; Hull battle from 2-down at Bolton to draw

Aston Villa 0 – Liverpool 1 (Premier League, December 29, 2009) In blizzard conditions at a freezing Villa Park, the weather clearly affected both sides in an underwhelming goalless first half (highlights here) although the Villains should have scored when Stuart Downing saw Pepe Reina stop a point-blank volley from four yards out. For the majority of the second half Liverpool were hanging on by their fingernails as Villa squandered chance after chance to score, and they suffered the killer sucker-punch in the 92nd minute as Agbonlahor saw a tackle send the ball straight into Fernando Torres’ path, and the Spaniard gobbled up his chance and slipped a low shot past Friedel into the far corner.

Post match interviews with Gerrard & Torres here, and with Rafa Benitez here.

Bolton 2 – Hull 2 (Premier League, December 29, 2009) Bolton broke the deadlock with home-sick Hull after 20 minutes at the Reebok when defender Dawson only managed to partially clear the visitors lines with a header, and Ivan Klasnic was able to swat home the loose ball from 20 yards out. The Trotters were looking home and dry when a goalkeeper howler from Hull keeper Myhill gifted Kevin Davies a second. But then Hull staged a dramatic turnaround, with Stephen Hunt bundling home a corner in the 71st. Hunt struck again seven minutes later as the Irishman collected Hesselink’s flick-on and firing a deflected shot into the net.

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Nottingham Forest 2 – Coventry 0 (Championship, December 28, 2009) Nottingham Forest consolidated their third-place position as Robert Earnshaw and Dexter Blackstock (howtizer) fired them to a comfortable 2-nil victory over Coventry.

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Cercle Bruges 2 – Standard Liege 0 (Jupiler League, December 29, 2009) Liege’s disappointing season continue in the first half at Cercle Brugge as the home forward, Irishman Dominic Foley, outjumped two Standard defenders to head home a right wing cross. A glancing header from Hans Cornelis on the hour, connecting with a free-kick, sealed Standard’s fate of yet another defeat.

Genk 0 – Sint Truiden 0 (Jupiler League, December 29, 2009)

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Hapoel Acco 1 – Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 (Ligat ha’Al, December 29, 2009) Tel Aviv needed just three minutes to go into the lead, Itai Shechter stole the ball at the center of the field and picked out Maharan Lala, who had no trouble slotting in the opener. In the 52nd minute, the Tel Aviv defense failed to clear the ball and Itzik Cohen blasted in the equaliser.

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Nagoya Grampus Eight 1* – Shimizu S-Pulse 1 (Pens. 5-3) (Emperor’s Cup semi-final, December 29, 2009) Serial-goalscorer Shinji Okazaki latched onto a long straight punt down field to fired Shimizu into an 18th minute lead, but the hosts drew level just before the hour through Keiji Tamada’s penalty. The match went to extra time and then penalties, where the hosts held their nerve to advance into Japanese Cup final.

Gamba Osaka 2 – Vegalta Sendai 1 (Emperor’s Cup semi-final, December 29, 2009) Lucas’ bicycle kick opened the scoring in the fifth minute after Sendai goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi could only punch Michihiro Yasuda’s cross to the edge of the area. Second division Sendai fought back when Takayuki Nakahara slotted home Sekiguchi’s cross just before the hour mark. But Gamba remained composed and Hideo Hashimoto set up Lucas to fire home with 24 minutes remaining.

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Egypt 1 – Malawi 1 (International Friendly, December 29, 2009) The warm-up match for two of the participants at the upcoming African Cup of Nations ended in a stalemate as Hosny Abd Rabou’s penalty in first half stoppage time was cancelled out byChiukepo Msowoya’s header two minutes from time.