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Aston Villa 1-3 Liverpool: Match report, player ratings, expert analysis, fan reaction and more

Andrew Robertson’s record-breaking assist helped Liverpool to hit the ground running after football has returned to the Premier League against a much-improved Aston Villa under Unai Emery

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool got off to a winning start as the Premier League returns to action in the wake of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a 3-1 away win against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, on what would turn into a record-breaking night for one of the club’s most beloved players.

Egyptian star Mohamed Salah got the Reds off and running in the opening five minutes after Trent Alexander-Arnold collected Villa’s clearance from a corner and picked out Andrew Robertson in the area with an immaculate outside-of-the-foot pass for the Scottish international to square to Salah for a close-range finish.

Villa nearly drew level twelve minutes later when Ollie Watkins freed himself just enough to test Allison with a diving header from six yards out but his effort could only be headed right at the Brazilian after John McGinn did well to send in a whipped cross just over the head of Joel Matip.

Liverpool would double their lead in the 38th minute when Virgil van Dijk hit a well-struck half-volley low into the far corner after Salah turned provider when he settled a loose ball just off Robin Olsen’s far post before finding the Dutch international defender with enough space to shoot.

Unai Emery’s men had plenty of chances themselves in what had divulged into an entertaining back-and-forth match but had lacked the requisite cutting edge to make any of their chances count on the scoresheet.

Salah nearly doubled his tally on the night five minutes after the restart when he pulled free and clear of Ezri Konsa and Douglas Luiz with just Olsen to beat but lost his footing in the final moment and could only scuff a low effort right at the Swedish shot-stopper, but Liverpool came out of the halftime interval intent on putting proceedings to bed.

The home side secured a lifeline in the 59th minute, however, when Luiz found Watkins at the far post with a bending ball before the England international striker headed past Allison back against the grain low across the face of goal to cut Liverpool’s lead in half.

It was not a night to remember for Uruguayan international Darwin Núñez who had numerous chances to find the back of the net, none more straightforward than when he was put through on goal ahead of Konsa in the 76th minute but could only shank his effort low and ride of Olsen’s far post as the former SL Benfica star remains rampantly inconsistent in front of goal.

But it was a fantastic night for Spanish youngster Stefan Bajčetić who scored just one minute after coming on as a sub, who tapped home from inside six yards after rounding Olsen expertly before slotting past Ashley Young on the line for his first goal in Liverpool colors.

The match would finish at 3-1 with a justified scoreline, seeing Liverpool climb back into sixth after Brighton’s win away at Southampton earlier today but still well off the pace at the top set by Arsenal and Manchester City while Aston Villa’s run of form took a knock though fans can certainly see signs of improvement over Steven Gerrard’s reign.

Aston Villa Player Ratings

  • Robin Olsen (GK): 7
  • Ashley Young (RB): 6
  • Ezri Konsa (CB): 5.5
  • Tyrone Mings (CB): 6
  • Lucas Digne (LB): 6.5
  • John McGinn (RM):
  • Boubacar Kamara (CM): 6
  • Douglas Luiz (CM): 7
  • Leon Bailey (LM): 6.5
  • Emiliano Buendía (RF): 5.5
  • Ollie Watkins (LF): 7
  • Philippe Coutinho (Sub): 6
  • Danny Ings (Sub): 6
  • Leander Dendoncker (Sub): 6

Liverpool Player Ratings

  • Alisson (GK): 7
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB): 6.5
  • Joel Matip (CB): 7
  • Virgil van Dijk (CB): 8
  • Andrew Robertson (LB): 8
  • Fabinho (DM): 7
  • Jordan Henderson (CM): 6.5
  • Thiago (CM): 6.5
  • Mohamed Salah (RW): 8
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (LW): 6
  • Darwin Núñez (CF): 7
  • Naby Keïta (Sub): 6
  • Harvey Elliot (Sub): 6
  • Joe Gomez (Sub): 6
  • Stefan Bajčeticć (Sub): 7
  • Ben Doak (Sub): N/A

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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