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Aston Villa vs. Liverpool result, highlights and analysis as Reds return with victory

Liverpool returned to Premier League action with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa but were made to work for the points in an engrossing encounter at Villa Park.

The Reds went ahead with just five minutes on the clock as Mohamed Salah finished off a slick passing move — Andrew Robertson providing the assist to set a record among Premier League defenders — and then doubled their advantage through Virgil van Dijk just past the half-hour mark.

But that scoreline did not offer an entirely fair reflection of the contest up to that point, and the hosts more than merited the Ollie Watkins header that brought them back into the game in the second half.

Unfortunately for Unai Emery, his side left themselves vulnerable to the counter as they pushed hard for an equaliser, and that openness was punished as substitute Stefan Bajcetic sealed the win late in the day. 

MORE: Watch every Premier League match live with fuboTV in Canada

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool final score

  1H 2H Final
Aston Villa 0 1 1
Liverpool 2 1 3

Goals:

  • LIV — Salah — 5th min
  • LIV — Van Dijk — 37th min
  • VIL — Watkins — 59th min
  • LIV — Bajcetic — 81st min

Nunez’s mixed Liverpool start continues

When strikers are regularly missing chances, it is customary to point out that they are, at the very least, getting in the positions to take shots.

And that is certainly true of Darwin Nunez, who could arguably have taken two hat-trick balls home from Liverpool’s first two outings since the World Cup.

Unfortunately, the Uruguayan’s finishing has left a lot to be desired, and he doesn’t have a single goal to show for the raft of chances he has been involved in since returning from Qatar.

This inability to kill opponents and a worrying tendency to stray offside are among the rough edges Klopp has wanted to knock off Nunez’s game ever since he signed for the club.

Worryingly, it seems like any progress made on that front prior to the mid-season break has been squandered in the last few weeks, and the manager still has plenty of work to do.

Control deserts Reds once again

A failure to regularly control games was one of Liverpool’s biggest weaknesses during the early part of the season, and it was thought that they would dedicate the break to working on correcting that flaw.

However, their performances against Manchester City and Aston Villa suggest that there is still a long way to go.

Both games descended into end-to-end slugfests that essentially left the outcome to a flip of the coin, and Klopp’s men will lose as many as they win if this continues to be the case.

Surely it is by this point impossible to make the case that improvement on that front is likely without a January addition in central midfield.

Faith in youngsters rewarded again

The more cynical elements of the Liverpool fanbase might believe that Klopp’s use of Bajcetic here was a message to the club’s owners regarding the need for reinforcements in the middle.

But the Reds boss has big faith in the teenager and no doubt saw an opportunity to use him as his more experienced heads tired in the face of a late Villa onslaught.

That brave move was rewarded in the best possible way, Bajcetic showing a composure that has been a feature of his rare first-team outings in slotting a vital third goal late on.

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool as it happened

FULLTIME: The whistle sounds and Liverpool have made it three Premier League wins on the bounce for the first time this season.

90th min: Substitute Ben Doak wins a corner with a mazy run on the right but Robertson’s delivery is straight to Olsen.

Four minutes to be added on.

85th min: Dendoncker, Ings and Coutinho coming on for Villa, with Kamara, Buendia and Bailey all making way.

Likely too little, too late now. 

81st min: GOAL! Liverpool have surely won it now!

Gomez plays Nunez in down the left and, though the Uruguayan’s pull back on the byline is pushed out by Olsen, it’s straight to the arriving Bajcetic.

The youngster subsequently takes a cool touch past the goalkeeper and then sidefoots the ball home through a collection of bodies. Very calmly done.

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78th min: Leon Bailey receiving some attention from the physio after an inadvertent clash with Robertson and so Liverpool take the chance to make two further changes.

Henderson and Alexander-Arnold are off for Bajcetic and Gomez.

75th min: Darwin Nunez dashes in behind after a lovely pick out from Salah but his woeful finishing streak continues with a poor one that slides a foot wide of the far post.

That would have been the points in the bag for Liverpool.

71st min: Liverpool work it around the Villa box after a much-needed spell of possession but Naby Keita’s shot to finish off the move flies way over the bar.

66th min: Two changes for Liverpool, Thiago and Oxlade-Chamberlain making way for Elliott and Keita.

Jurgen Klopp needs these subs to work – his team are all over the place.

62nd min: Chaos at either end of the pitch!

Liverpool waste a good opportunity when Nunez fails to find Salah with a pass inside the Villa box and then the hosts go up the other end and have Watkins to blame for taking a shot when he had plenty of support on the break.

59th min: GOAL! Aston Villa back in it and my how they have deserved it.

Douglas Luiz swings a beauty of a cross in from the right-hand side and Watkins leaps like a salmon the back post to nod the ball back beyond Alisson.

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51st min: Salah breaks from a Liverpool corner to bear down on Olsen in the Villa goal but can’t sort his feet out given the pace he is moving at and scuffs the finish.

48th min: McGinn has a free header at the back post but can’t generate any power on the effort after an awkward bounce and Alisson gratefully collects. 

Villa looking sharp at the start of this half. 

47th min: Watkins get in behind from a Buendia pass after a slick passage of play from Villa but his excellent finish beyond Alisson won’t be rewarded – the flag is up for offside.

46th min: Back under way at Villa Park.

HALFTIME: Villa have a free-kick in a dangerous area in the dying seconds of the half but it’s wasted and they go in 2-0 down.

45th min (+2): Nunez meets an Alexander-Arnold free-kick delivery in the box but it’s at an awkward height for him and he can only help the ball into Olsen’s hands.

45th min: Matip heads down an attempted ball over the top for Watkins to help Liverpool regain possession.

The visitors have got better and better at managing that threat as the first half has worn on.

42nd min: Stat!

37th min: GOAL! Virgil van Dijk doubles Liverpool’s lead with a poacher’s finish inside the box.

The centre-back is on hand to arrow a controlled, left-footed drive into the bottom corner after Salah keeps the ball alive following a corner delivery. Breathing room for the visitors.

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36th min: Nunez’s deflected effort almost finds Salah at the back post but Mings is alert and pokes the ball out for a corner.

28th min: Utter chaos as Konsa volleys a clearance attempt up into the air to effectively play Nunez in on goal.

But the Liverpool man doesn’t take the opportunity, his first-time volley hitting the legs of Olsen and bouncing well clear of danger.

25th min: Nunez appears to waste a great headed opportunity by getting under the cross but he was offside.

The Uruguayan has been off quite frequently in the early stages of this game.

20th min: Goal… or not. Matip heads home a Robertson free-kick delivery but the flag is up for offside and replays show the defender was some way off.

19th min: Andy Robertson catches a sore one on the ankle from Douglas Luiz and that’s a free-kick.

Liverpool will be glad of the breather, this has been an end-to-end start.

14th min: Bailey absolutely scuffs a shot from eight yards out after being teed up by a lightning fast Villa counter.

You can’t waste chances like that.

8th min: Watkins draws a smart save from Alisson after sneaking in behind but the linesman’s flag is rightly up. It wouldn’t have counted.

5th min: GOAL! Liverpool in the lead and it’s Salah who gets it after a wonderful passage of play.

Villa clear a corner but only as far as Alexander-Arnold, who plays a stunning outside-of-the-boot pass in behind that Robertson crosses first time to give Salah a tap-in at the back stick. 

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3rd min: Huge chances for either side already! Villa get theirs when Watkins squeezes between Matip and Van Dijk but can’t get power on his shot.

Then, Nunez inexplicably leaves a low Robertson cross into the centre of the box when he would’ve been better placed shooting than attempting to let it run through for Salah.

1st min: Aston Villa get the game started.

5 mins from kickoff: Here come the teams – we are moments away!

15 mins from kickoff: Jurgen Klopp has been discussing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s involvement in the starting XI today.

He said: “We can’t think too much about the summer, but Ox is fit. He was back before the break but not 100 per cent fit, now he is. He’s had top, top preparation and unfortunately he got ill before the City game.”

25 mins from kickoff: Liverpool down to seventh place as a result of Brighton’s win over Southampton this afternoon, but they can jump back into sixth with a victory.

Most crucially, they would also be just five points shy of the top four with a game in hand on Tottenham who occupy that last spot.

45 mins from kickoff: Here come Liverpool.

1 hr from kickoff: The team news is here!

Aston Villa: Olsen, Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn, Buendia, Watkins, Bailey

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Nunez, Oxlade-Chamberlain

1.5 hrs from kickoff: One of the best grounds in English football playing host to today’s game.

2 hrs from kickoff: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ live coverage of Aston Villa vs. Liverpool at Villa Park. Can either of these side start climbing the Premier League table with three points on Boxing Day? Stick with us to find out.

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool lineups

Aston Villa name a starting line-up shorn of three World Cup stars, with Emiliano Martinez replaced by Robin Olsen in goal and Matty Cash and Leander Dendoncker only fit for the bench.

However, there is an injury boost among the substitutes, with Philippe Coutinho returning from injury to give himself of making an impact late in the game.

Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Olsen (GK) — Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne — Kamara, Luiz, McGinn — Buendia, Watkins, Bailey

Liverpool have been hit by a fresh injury blow for Luis Diaz, with the Colombia international out until February alongside Diogo Jota, meaning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a start on the left.

However, the Reds welcome back returning World Cup trio Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Alisson after they missed the midweek trip to Manchester City.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson (GK) — Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson — Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson — Salah, Nunez, Oxlade-Chamberlain

What time is Aston Villa vs. Liverpool?

Aston Villa play host to Liverpool at Villa Park on Monday, December 26. The kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. local time.

Here’s how that time translates across some of the major territories:

  Kickoff time
USA 12:30 ET
Canada 12:30 ET
UK 17:30 GMT
Australia 04:40 AEDT*
India 23:00 IST
Hong Kong 01:30 HKT*
Malaysia 01:30 MYT*
Singapore 01:30 SGT*
New Zealand 06:30 NZDT*

*Game starts on December 27 in these time zones

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool live stream, TV channel

Here’s how to watch all of the action from this match in some of the major territories:

Region TV Streaming
Australia Optus Sport
Canada

fuboTV

Hong Kong Now TV
India Hotstar, JioTV
Malaysia Astro Go
New Zealand Sky Sport Now, Sky Go
Singapore StarHub TV+
UK Amazon Prime
USA USA Network, Universo fuboTV, Peacock

UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and BT Sport streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.

USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on fuboTV. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.

Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streamed exclusively via fuboTV in Canada.

Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport. 

India: Star Sports network has the rights to show Premier League matches in India. As well as an English broadcast on Star Sports Select, select matches will be available via regional feeds on Star Sports 3 (in Bengali, English, Kannada, Malayalam), Star Sports 1 (Bangla) and Star Sports 1 (Tamil).


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