Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 1
Report of match 29th December 2009
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Match report from tonight's home defeat in the encounter versus LiverpoolFernando Torres came to Liverpool's rescue to snatch a dramatic 1-0 victory with an injury-time winner at Aston Villa.
It was the Spanish striker's twelfth goal of the season and his 50th in 75 games for Liverpool - the fastest half century of goals achieved by an Anfield player.
The Torres goal, however, was harsh on Villa who suffered their first home defeat in 11 games after enjoying more goalscoring opportunities than the Merseyside club.
But Liverpool invariably do well at Villa Park and they have now been unbeaten in their last 12 visits to the Birmingham ground.
While Liverpool took maximum points from their two holiday games, Villa have emerged pointless
In bitterly cold weather with players slithering and sliding all the time Liverpool received a big confidence boost, but manager Rafael Benitez still has problems as the spark is missing in his side.
Fortunately for Benitez his talented striker Torres pulled the game out of the fire with his late, late winner with a masterly finish.
Without the services of Ashley Young for the first time this season due to a one-match ban following five bookings, Villa often appeared to be a little lop-sided in attack.
The awful conditions prevented the game developing into a good match as neither side could gain the upper hand in the swirling sleet which always made ball control an extremely difficult operation.
The Merseyside club may have been misfiring this season and the reasons were clearly evident in a goalless first half.
Steven Gerrard attempted to get his attack moving and had an early shot on target but there was little conviction about Liverpool's play as they struggled to pressurise Villa.
The best effort and best save of the first half occurred in the 31st minute when Stewart Downing slammed in a first-time shot from James Milner's corner only to see Jose Reina make a reflex save to parry away the effort.
Surprisingly Torres was very subdued against the resolute Richard Dunne. Admittedly he lacked support to be of real danger and when he did produce a header on target it was easily saved by Brad Friedel.
Some strong tackles were seen in the closing stages of the opening period when first Dunne was booked for a tackle on Lucas. The Liverpool player suffered a similar fate for a reckless challenge on an off-key Gabby Agbonlahor.
As the conditions continued to worsen, Villa posed a threat when Agbonlahor, sent clear by Dunne, again forced Reina to make a fine save to keep Liverpool in the game.
A minute later Liverpool had a let-off when a John Carew header skidded just wide, but the game still had a sting in the tail.
Deep into injury time Stephen Warnock lost his footing. The ball ran loose and came off substitute Steve Sidwell into the path of Torres, who belatedly displayed his finishing skills.
He only required one opening and he fastened on to the ball to slot in a low cross-shot past Friedel.
|Competition: Barclays Premier League Date: Tuesday, 29th December 2009 Kick off: 19:45 Venue: Villa Park|
||0 - 1||Liverpool
|6||Stewart Downing (Sidwell 80)|
|20||Nigel Reo-Coker (Albrighton 72)|
|4||Steve Sidwell (Downing 80)|
|12||Marc Albrighton (Reo-Coker 72)|
|2||Glen Johnson (Skrtel 89)|
|4||Alberto Aquilani (Babel 78)|
|15||Yossi Benayoun (Aurelio 90)|
|12||Fabio Aurelio (Benayoun 90)|
|19||Ryan Babel (Aquilani 78)|
|37||Martin Skrtel (Johnson 89)|
|Aston Villa cards shown|
|41 mins||Richard Dunne||Unsporting behaviour|
|Liverpool cards shown|
|43 mins||Leiva Lucas||Persistent infringement|