One Moment is a rebooted post-game Aston Villa column that takes a closer look at one single moment from the last Villa game. This week, we’re looking at the moment when the game fell apart for the Villa.
Like the sun sets, like the moon rises, this moment was always coming. Like a broken fort guarded by poorly-armed novices, the siege would always win out. In retrospect, there was almost no chance at all that a Liverpool team so relentless in their attacking force and desire to claim results would leave Villa Park empty-handed on the back of their first league loss this season.
But for 87 minutes, it looked as though the Villa may have stolen one. Their bunkered defence may have found the provisions needed to wait out the siege. They almost nicked another killing blow late-on after Trezeguet booted home his first goal of the season in unbelievable fashion. One goal strong was the lead of Villa, and it was a lead too weak to defy Liverpool.
Our one moment cannot revolve another unsightly VAR call as it has done, nor can it focus on Trezeguet’s first goal. It has to focus on the moment that Andy Robertson, untouched him his run, drifted into the box and rammed home an 87th minute equaliser to destroy any hope that Villa had of a strike against Achilles.
For the best part of the match, Liverpool had cut a frustrated figure. Confused as to why their many chances had danced so achingly close to goal, the Reds cut forward at will. They fired shots, blocked by Tyrone Mings, and Björn Engels, and as each shot bounced wide with a disruptive reluctance to reward Liverpool, you got the sense that this day - unlike many before it - would not go their way.
Robertson, a claymore of Scottish build, clove Villa apart with his run. With reluctance, he edged towards the penalty area before a pass was sprayed his way. With yards of pitch to burst into, he darted and covered space.
On the other side of the pitch, directly and distantly opposite to Robertson, Sadio Mané swung a late and hanging cross onto the back post. The Scotsman crashed into it with typical boisterousness, his legs picking up a faster speed than anyone else on the pitch, and hit the ball with enough energy to force it past Tom Heaton. The defending of the cross will certainly be critiqued - heavily - but the in-swinging ball defied the challenge, and Robertson’s run grew exponentially and unbelievably faster as he advanced. The focus of the crowd fell onto Robertson before his goal, as in the build-up, he drifted in and out of Villa’s attention. The dangerous attack of Liverpool had occupied the ball and the wide space, so how could they pay any mind to the hyperactive Robertson when dealing with Origi, Lallana and Mané. What right does a full-back have to be so, so important? Mané thread the eye of the needle with his looping pass, while Andy Robertson kicked the haystack apart looking for it. An organised and formal slice of chaos, the brand of Liverpool FC.
Villa collapsed in a sorry disappointment, and this moment doesn’t end there.
It carries on through the celebration, because Robertson isn’t settling for a draw. He wheels away from the ball and flails his arms to demand a retreat. Instead of basking in a moment of triumph, a true and deserved fight-back, the full-back demanded that his team return up the pitch to settle in for the kick-off - and gain an attempt to win the match. It was about six minutes later when Liverpool found the winner, through Mané again, but the match was already over. The body language of the eventual winners made it very clear that only one team was leaving with the points.
Villa did not disgrace themselves, at all, but their backs were violently forced against the wall as Liverpool strove to win the ball, keep the ball, and score. Even the best defenders in the world will concede eventually, and Liverpool made it their plan to attack, and attack, and attack. The heroic efforts of Villa shouldn’t be forgotten, but against a team united in a philosophy that is executed by the best players in the world, what hope do teams like Aston Villa have?
Well - 87 minutes worth, if you want an exact figure, but how can that hold up against such a relentless desire to win?