Villa 0 Liverpool 0

David O'Leary expressed satisfaction with this goalless draw in his first home game as Aston Villa boss.

He said: "It was very encouraging although I thought we should have won. We created some good chances but were foiled by some good saves.

"I thought Darius Vassell produced a good performance considering it was his first full game of the season." Gerard Houllier was not too disappointed with the draw, commenting: "I thought the team displayed a great deal of character to come back from the Chelsea defeat.

"It was David O'Leary's first home game and it was always going to be a match with a lot of atmosphere.

"Harry Kewell appeared to get stronger as the game was in progress and he looks to be a very good asset." The most pleasing feature of the first half from Villa's point of view was the performance of their new goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen.

Following a very quiet start, when both teams struggled to lift the tempo, Michael Owen suddenly swept onto the scene with a pass to set-up El-Hadji Diouf.

Sorensen spectacularly flung himself to his left to keep out the shot and from the rebound Kewell carelessly blasted over the bar.

A similar quality save kept out a long-range effort from Danny Murphy as Liverpool seemingly lacked the cutting edge, and Villa themselves produced several promising attacks without really testing the capability of Jerzy Dudek.

Ominously there was a misunderstanding between Sorensen and Olof Mellberg on two occasions. Mellberg, dropped for the opening game, was recalled to captain the side but his authority involving the goalkeeper left a great deal to be desired.

The most heated moment of the first period occurred when Steven Gerrard produced a heavy tackle on Gareth Barry. O'Leary was not happy and had words on the touchline with Liverpool's assistant manager, Phil Thompson.

The Reds hardly played like championship material and were fortunate to survive a Juan Pablo Angel free-kick on the hour which rattled the angle of the bar and post.

It typified the game, which always destined to end with the spoils shared with neither side too alarmed by their performance.