The first half started off brightly, and didn't let off until two minutes into stoppage time. Using a 4-3-3 formation, Paul Lambert's team came out swinging, and took advantage of Liverpool's weak (nonexistent?) midfield. It seemed, however, as if this would be the standard Villa bright spot in which they had plenty of chances but made nothing of them. Then, in the 25th minute, a ball up the left side made it's way from the defense to Gabby Agbonlahor near the box in two passes. After some fancy footwork, Gabby sent it down the line to a waiting Andi Weimann who poked the ball in to give Villa an unexpected 0-1 lead:
And shockingly, Villa kept up the pressure. 12 minutes later, Gabby would be the catalyst for another goal, this time making a beautiful cross from the right that fooled all of Liverpool and which Christian Benteke finished for his second goal in as many matches:
The Simon Mignolet dive, in particular, is a joy. Liverpool, however, are dangerous no matter the situation. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge continued to look bothersome, and it paid off two minutes into stoppage time when Sturridge took a flick on from Jordan Henderson and buried it to bring the Reds back into the match.
In the second half, Villa began looking a bit less bright, but not worrisome. Gabby, who launched himself over the pitchside ads in the first half, finally succumbed to injury in the 48th minute, making way for Grant Holt to make his Aston Villa debut.
In the 53rd minute, though, Luis Suarez did what he's best at: he dove. On a one-on-one with Brad Guzan, Suarez got pushed wide of the goal, Guzan made a play for the ball, and Suarez fell to the ground after passing (and barely touching Guzan). See?:
And then Steven Gerrard converted the penalty to even things up:
From there, things quieted down for a bit. Liverpool began taking control of the match, though. Much to the surprise of everyone though, they didn't totally dominate, and Villa didn't cave in. The final minutes of the match were terrifying, but only because no one was sure when Suarez would dive again. Neither team managed to score to end the match, so it goes down as a draw.
Coming in, I said I'd be ecstatic about a draw. And in many ways, I am. But it's hard not to be angry at Villa getting robbed. This was the best we've seen Villa in ages, and they were a Suarez dive from three hard-earned points. Nevertheless, Villa now sit in 10th and secured a point that was probably unexpected coming in. Not a bad Saturday.
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