The LFC Testament

Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool

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Suarez fails to take advantage of lacklustre Villa defending.

Liverpool’s season ended without European qualification on Sunday afternoon, as a first half Stewart Downing goal gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory at Villa Park.

The defeat, coupled with a 2-1 win for Tottenham Hotspur over the relegated Birmingham City at White Hart Lane, means that Kenny Dalglish’s side will not be plying their trade on the continent in 2011-12, having finished in sixth place.

Prior to the match, the visitors made three changes from the team that had been beaten at Anfield by Harry Redknapp’s men last time out, with Joe Cole, Raul Meireles and Fabio Aurelio replacing the absent Glen Johnson, Andy Carroll and Maxi Rodriguez.

With four teenagers making up the Liverpool bench (including a debut appearance in the first team squad for Andre Wisdom), there was certainly an end-of-season feel to the game in terms of personnel.

Early on in the match, Jay Spearing’s afternoon was over, having failed to recover from an untidy Nigel Reo-Coker challenge. Jonjo Shelvey replaced him in the centre of midfield.

The Reds’ went close to taking the lead in the 15th minute, as Lucas Leiva’s half volley was blocked on the line by Ashley Young following a Meireles corner.

Not long after, the impressive Brazilian midfielder’s lofted pass caught the hosts’ back four napping, sending Luis Suarez through on goal. Brad Friedel was quick to shift from his position and remove the danger.

Besides a bloodied Jamie Carragher head, little occured between the Suarez ‘chance’ and the only goal of the encounter. Patient build-up play in the Villa midfield resulted in space on the right for Marc Albrighton. The youngster’s deep cross found the chest of Downing, who showed composure to rifle home a 33rd minute lead for the Midlands outfit.

The goal didn’t disrupt the pattern of the game; neither side asserted dominance on proceedings. The ever-present Martin Skrtel almost found an equaliser from a narrow Aurelio free-kick, but couldn’t get the necessary touch on a smart cross.

After the interval, it was much the same. Joe Cole was presented with an opportunity to draw Liverpool level, but failed to hit the target with his volley in the 55th minute.

The vistors’ best chance of the game arrived just after the hour mark. A wonderful turn in the box by Suarez sent two Villa defenders sprawling. The Uruguayan looked to square the ball to Meireles who, with the goal at his mercy, somehow didn’t get the ball past the desperate lunges of Brad Friedel and Richard Dunne.

The Portuguese midfielder probably should have done better with an opportunity just moments later as well, as his attempt to divert the ball across the face of goal was easily quashed by Reo-Coker, before an Aurelio dead ball crept just wide of Friedel’s right hand post.

At the other end, Darren Bent’s audacious shot from the edge of the box was kept out by Pepe Reina, as the season came towards its conclusion.

Liverpool’s search for an equaliser was prolonged with minutes remaining, as smart build-up play from John Flanagan and Meireles set up a deep Suarez, who sent a thumping effort into the stand.

With 10 minutes left, Birmingham equalised at White Hart Lane – but it proved too little, too late for Liverpool who won’t be competing in Europe next season.

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Written by The LFC Testament

May 22, 2011 at 18:44

Posted in Uncategorized

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