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Premier League Match Report & Player Ratings | Liverpool and Villa fight to an entertaining 1-1 draw at Anfield

The Reds are now likely to be without Champions League football next season after Manchester United dispatched Bournemouth in a 1-0 win at Vitality Stadium

Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season were dealt a hammer blow today on Merseyside after Unai Emery’s Aston Villa walk away from the red side of Stanley Park with a share of the spoils thanks to a 1-1 draw against one of the form sides in the table.

On an afternoon when thousands of loyal Liverpool supporters prepared to bid a final farewell to a handful of their heroes, Jürgen Klopp’s men were unable to continue on the winning run that saw them climb up the Premier League ladder while putting themselves in a shock position to possibly squeak into the top four on the upcoming final day of action.

Villa could not have dreamt up a better first half on a tough away day at Anfield after taking a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute through Jacob Ramsey, five minutes after Emery’s men could have taken an earlier lead through Ollie Watkins, though the England international failed to dispatch his effort from the penalty spot.

Despite the Reds holding the balance of play in their hands, Villa was very much the better of the two sides up until the half-time interval, owing to the three big chances they managed to create in comparison to Klopp’s men failing to craft a single one.

Liverpool was perhaps lucky to go into the halftime interval only down a goal but resumed play after the break with far more intent to find an equalizer on a day where they needed three points if they were to have a chance at securing Champions League football before the end of the season.

Dutch international forward Cody Gakpo first looked to have found that equalizer in the 55th minute after Villa failed to deal with service into the area from Trent Alexander-Arnold before the former PSV Eindhoven star slammed home a half-volley from close range, but VAR intervened and judged the Reds to have committed offside in the build-up.

Emery was happy to hold on to a 1-0 lead as the clock approached extra time, but a whopping ten minutes of added time meant that the former Arsenal headmaster would have to put every bit of faith in his side. That lead would disappear just before added time began through none other than Firmino in what was his final match at Anfield, with the Brazilian getting on the end of Mohamed Salah’s ball at the near post to tap home past Emi Martínez.

Villa defended as stout as possible despite a handful of occasions where Emery’s troops turned possession over in the defensive third, only for Liverpool to fail to capitalize on their best attempts at self-sabotage.

In the end, matters would end one-a-piece at the storied ground, with that result being just about fair given the balance of play across two halves. Liverpool showed resiliency at home and that typical capability to fight back at Anfield, while Villa’s story as one of the rejuvenated sides of the season held firm throughout.

The result would see Villa climb ahead of Tottenham into seventh after Spurs fell to Brentford in a 3-1 loss during the lunchtime kickoff, while the Reds remained fifth and three points behind bitter rivals Manchester United and are now unlikely to claim a top-four finish.

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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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