Match: Aston Villa v Liverpool
Date: Saturday 2nd November 2019
Venue: Villa Park
Robertson 86, Mane 90
Heaton, Guilbert (Elmohamady 69), Engels, Mings, Targett, Luiz (Hourihane 72), Nakamba, McGinn, El Ghazi, El Ghazi, Wesley (Kodjia 86). Unused subs: Steer, Taylor, Lansbury, Konsa.
Story in brief
Villa suffered defeat in the cruellest of circumstances as late goals from Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane gave Liverpool all three points in an absorbing contest.
After taking the lead through Trezeguet, Dean Smith’s men defended valiantly and looked set for a famous victory until Robertson grabbed the equaliser and Mane headed a brilliant winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
While the Merseysiders arguably deserved the points on the balance of play, it was harsh on a Villa side who gave the Premier League leaders a testing afternoon.
Smith’s men went ahead with a classic effort, John McGinn swinging in a deep free-kick from the left and Trezeguet beating Alisson with a superb angled volley which was too hot for the keeper to handle.
The second half was very much a rearguard action for the home side as Liverpool pressed forward incessantly and created a succession of chances, with Tom Heating making an outstanding save from a Mane header.
But those late goals turned the game on its head, leaving the majority of yet another bumper Villa Park crowd bitterly disappointed.
Frustrating result but Marvelous performance
Every Aston Villa player will have left the ground feeling disconsolate, such was the agonising way the contest with Liverpool finished.
But one man who should have departed B6 with head held high was Marvelous Nakamba, who ran himself into the ground for the full 90 minutes.
After a slow start to his claret and blue career due to injury, the all-action central star is fast becoming both a fan favourite and star man.
We will remember them
Whatever rivalries exist in football, Remembrance Weekend is guaranteed to provide a united front in tribute to those who lost their lives during two World Wars.
So it proved once again as representatives of the Armed Forces were applauded on to the pitch before Villa and Liverpool supporters joined forces in a perfectly observed minute’s silence.
No love for VAR
Not for the first time, the claret and blue faithful left no-one in any doubt about their feelings about VAR.
When Trezeguet fired Villa into the lead, referee Jonathan Moss had no hesitation in pointing to the centre circle and there were no protests from Liverpool defenders.
Yet we still had to wait for over a minute before the VAR panel reached the conclusion that there was no offside and that the goal should stand.
There was another delay in the 29th minute before the panel agreed with the official’s decision, even though an assistant’s flag was raised for offside when Roberto Firmino netted from close range.
And the ref was under scrutiny again when Sadio Mane was booked for diving when challenged by Frederic Guilbert on 37 minutes.
It was a straightforward decision, yet once again VAR became involved before it was upheld.
Dean Smith’s men make the short journey to Molineux next Sunday to face Wolves for the second time in a couple of weeks, this time in the Premier League.
The next top-flight action at Villa Park is against Newcastle United on Monday 25th November (8pm).