Liverpool Live Blog: Stewart Downing’s Strike Gives Aston Villa 1-0 Victory Over Liverpool


May 22, 2011

Liverpool Live Blog: Stewart Downing's Strike Gives Aston Villa 1-0 Victory Over Liverpool

Full Time, Villa 1-0:

Ashley Young off for Michael Bradley

Four minutes added

A longball sends Agbonlahor off to the races against Carragher, but the bandaged captain gets there first.

Downing initiates yet another attack for Villa, finding Albrighton in ample space. He crosses into the box, but nobody gets on the end of it.

Ngog is slotted through very well down the center, but he is flagged for offside — there was a big hole in the Villa defense.

Whistle blows. Villa get the win, and there won't be any European football for Liverpool in 2010-11. Still, the Reds enjoyed a marvelous turnaround that has set the stage for a legitimate run at the title next season.

89', Villa 1-0:Young flips a ball over the top to Agbonlahor, and he wins a corner on the left.

The corner comes to no end, but Flanagan concedes another in short order.

Suarez has another chance in the area, but he can't quite get power on it, and Friedel saves the soft shot.

85', Villa 1-0: Villa goes through a spell seeing most of the ball. Agbonlahor tees up Petrov at the top of the area, and he shoots well on target, but Reina makes a great save.

Meireles nearly finds Suarez in the area, but, again, he is just cut out. Kuyt makes a run into the box, but he goes down on his own volition.

81', Villa 1-0: Albrighton floats a cross in, but Reina gets there — the game has really opened up here down the stretch.

Suarez tries to slot in Meireles, but his ball into the box is cut out.

Carragher saves another potential chance as Bent was making a run towards goal.

77', Villa 1-0:Young attempts to release Bent through the defense, but his final ball isn't quite right.

Liverpool makes a great rush forward, and Meireles tees up Suarez in the area, but he shoots well high — he had time for a touch.

An incredible ball from Downing opens up Bent alone in the area. He taps it across goal, and Agbonlahor is just inches from finishing on the open goal.

73', Villa 1-0: Suarez wins a corner from Young. It is taken to the far post, but Dunne clears it behind.

Dunne, then, does the exact same thing again.

Collins is called for a foul on Ngog in a very dangerous area, right above the box with enough space to get it down.

Aurelio hits it, and he beats the wall, but his effort is just wide of the far post.

Suarez sends two crosses in from the right, but both are blocked by Collins. Agbonlahor runs all the way across the pitch, but he eventually loses out to Carragher.

69', Villa 1-0:

Agbonlahor on for Reo-Coker

Ngog on for Joe Cole

Walker is whistled for a foul trying to win a corner from Skrtel.

Liverpool apply some forward pressure, and Meireles is free in the area on the right. Reo-Coker somehow gets back and blocks the shot at the last minute — great play.

65', Villa 1-0:

Yellow card — Joe Cole — Dissent

Dunne was very close to a handball, but it looks like he managed to avoid it on the Friedel save.

Walker wins a free kick from Cole, who doesn't particularly like the call. He gets a yellow for his argument.

Off the free kick, Reo-Coker can't get his head to a perfect ball, and it falls to Collins' feet, who also manages to miss the chance.

61', Villa 1-0: The match again hits a lull, as Villa holds the ball in their own half for a spell.

Liverpool win it back on a few occasions, but they cannot keep it.

Bent tries to flick a longball on to Albrighton, but Aurelio defends the play well.

Suarez makes an exceptional run into the box and he beats everybody. He tees up Meireles with an open goal, and he puts the shot on target. Somehow, Friedel gets back — incredible save.

57', Villa 1-0:Villa makes a great run forward, finding Bent in the area. He crosses the ball across goal, but nobody can quite get to it.

A ball into the area finds Cole well, but on the turn, he shoots it way high.

Downing wins a foul in the Liverpool half when he is held on a good give and go.

Young sends a ball in well, but it is cleared.

Young slips free on the left, and he tries to tee up Downing in the area, but he is cut out.

Suarez wins a free kick in the final third after Suarez makes somewhat of a dive after minimal contact from Walker.

The kick, though, hits the wall, and Young eventually runs out.

53', Villa 1-0: The corner comes to no result, and Reina boots it forward.

A nice ball nearly finds Cole in the area, but it is cut out at the final moment.

Liverpool rushes forward again, and Cole finds Suarez in the area, but he can do nothing with it. His ball to the far post is well to long.

49', Villa 1-0:Liverpool begin the second half with a spell of possession, but a throw to Suarez gets caught in his feet — this has been far from his best effort in a Liverpool shirt.

Eventually, Friedel gets a goal kick.

Albrighton is fouled in midfield, and Villa comes forward. Young takes as hot from distance, which is deflected behind for a corner.

Half, Villa 1-0:

Three minutes added

The teams exchange possession in midfield — there seems to be a little less energy in the match after the spell of fouls and injuries.

A great ball slots Suarez free down the right, but he is flagged offside.

Cole , Kuyt and Suarez combine well down the center, but Dunne cuts out the attack well.

Petrov is fouled by Lucas in his own half. The whistle blows.

44', Villa 1-0:

Yellow card — Meireles — poor challenge

Meireles is given a yellow for a poor challenge.

Meireles now goes down in midfield, and he's holding his head. He tangled with Reo-Coker, who has been all over the place, but there was nothing in it this time around.

40', Villa 1-0: Meireles, Suarez and Kuyt combine down the right, winning a deep throw. Eventually, Reo-Coker wins the ball from Cole, and a nice ball is sent forward to Albrighton, who wins a throw on the right.

Kuyt is fouled heavily by Luke Young, and the Dutchman stays down. He got the ball, but the challenge was quite heavy.

Aurelio sends a great ball in, but he can't quite find Skrtel at the far post.

36', Villa 1-0: For all of the talk about Young as a transfer target, Downing has really been the far better player this season — and he did win Villa's P.O.Y. award.

Albrighton, too, has been a true bright spot at Villa Park. It's hard to understand why he isn't an automatic selection in the first 11.

Villa has now gone on the front foot after the goal — making two end to end runs.

32', Villa 1-0:

Goal — Downing, off Albrighton cross to far post

Cole wins a free kick from Cole after the midfielder got loose down the left.

Carragher has come back onto the pitch, wearing a big bandage across his head.

Now, Ashley Young has gone down. The cursed afternoon continues. Cole did challenge him from behind, but it looked pretty clean — getting the ball.

Villa retain possession in the forward half, and Albrighton sends a great ball in. It falls to the back post to Downing, who volleys it off the crossbar and in. Goal! Downing, 1-0 Villa.

28', 0-0:

Albrighton on for Delph — injury

Suarez now goes down momentarily, but he gets back on his feet quickly.

Now, Delph is down — it seems like nobody can stay on their feet right now.

Albrighton comes on for Delph.

24', 0-0: Downing sends a ball over the top to Walker on the overlap, and he beats Skrtel to win a Villa corner.

Downing reaches Collins' head on the corner, but the ball is cleared. Villa keeps the pressure on, but Petrov cannot finish from distance.

Carragher takes a knock — the captain is bleeding from his head and the trainer is on. He heads off the pitch to deal with the cut.

Skrtel fouls Delph in the Liverpool half, but Downing's ball is right to Reina.

20', 0-0: A great ball over the top towards Suarez nearly catches the defense out, but Friedel just beats the Uruguyan to the ball.

Villa establishes possession forward, but they can't make it into the final third after a lengthy spell on the ball. Finally, Downing makes a run towards the box and finds Petrov. He turns, but he can't finish.

16', 0-0: Villa retain possession in their own half for a spell, but a stray pass finds Kuyt, and Liverpool has a chance to build.

Dunne fouls Kuyt in midfield.

Aurelio slips in Meireles well with a through ball, but Meireles' turn in the area results in a shot well wide of the target.

A corner is given, and Meireles finds Lucas. His volley is on target, but Young clears it off the line.

Suarez wins the ball in the Villa half, and he sends a good pass into the area to Cole, who wins a corner — though he actually touched it last.

Meireles' ball is cleared partially, and then Shelvey rockets a shot way high.

12', 0-0:

Shelvey on for Spearing — leg injury.

Liverpool begins a good spell of possession in midfield, but Kuyt is flagged for offside on the right as the Reds moved to the final third.

Villa come forward with a run of their own through Downing, but Young sends a ball into the area poorly, and Reina collects.

Spearing has gone back down to the pitch — this time calling for a replacement. He limps off, and is replaced by Shelvey.

8', 0-0:

Yellow card — Reo-Coker — Persistent fouling

Reo-Coker fouls Cole in the Liverpool half, and moments later, he does the same to Spearing — three fouls in just a matter of minutes.

Probert, accordingly, shows him the yellow.

Spearing stays down for a spell, but ultimately, he's fine.

4', 0-0: And we're off. Aurelio attempts to thread a ball through to Suarez, but he is flagged for offside.

Reo-Coker is whistled for a foul.

10:30 a.m. ET: After an impressive four-month turnaround that has seen the team move from near the bottom of the Premier League table to contention for European qualification, the season will end for Kenny Dalglish and the Reds on Sunday.

Still, there's more at stake than simply ending things on a positive note.

Liverpool, with 58 points, sit just one point behind Spurs in the race for fifth. With a superior goal difference, the Reds would finish in that position if they draw at Villa Park and Spurs fall to relegation-battling Birmingham. A win and a Spurs draw or loss would also do the trick.

For Villa, the end of the season will only serve to increase uncertainty at a club that has seen four different managers at the helm this campaign.  While the acquisition of Darren Bent has kept the club out of the relegation scrap, their 45-point performance is a far cry from the top-six finishes of recent years.

Sunday's match could very well be the last for Ashley Park in a Villa shirt, as he is widely expected to move either to Liverpool or Manchester United at season's end.

Lineups are listed below. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. ET.


Pepe Reina (25), GK
Martin Skrtel (37), CB
Jamie Carragher (23), CB
Fabio Aurelio (6), FB
John Flanagan (38), FB
Jay Spearing (26), MF
Lucas (21), MF
Joe Cole (10), MF
Raul Meireles (4), MF
Dirk Kuyt (18), F
Luis Suarez (7), F


Christian Poulsen (28)
David Ngog (24)
Jonjo Shelvey (33)
Peter Gulacsi (42)
Danny Wilson (22)
Andre Wisdom (47)

Aston Villa:

Brad Friedel (1), GK
Richard Dunne (5), CB
James Collins (29), CB
Like Young (2), FB
Kyle Walker (36), FB
Stiliyan Petrov (19), MF
Nigel Reo-Coker (20), MF
Fabian Delph (16), MF
Stewart Downing (6), MF
Darren Bent (39), F
Ashley Young (7), F


Emile Heskey (18)
Robert Pires (8)
Andy Marshall (33)
Michael Bradley (13)
Gabriel Agbonlahor (11)
Ciaran Clark (21)
Marc Albrighton (12)

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