Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa: Firmino rescues a point for Reds

Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa: Roberto Firmino nets a fairytale late equaliser in his final Reds match at Anfield to keep Jurgen Klopp’s top-four hopes alive after Jacob Ramsey gave visitors the lead

  • Liverpool scored a late goal to earn a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday and keep their top-four bid alive
  • Jacob Ramsey gave Villa the lead with a well-taken volley in the first-half before Roberto Firmino’s late strike
  • Re-live all the action from Anfield  as Brazilian star forward Firmino fires home an emotional late equaliser

Though Roberto Firmino will be able to look back on a pleasing late contribution on his final Anfield appearance, the big picture is that Liverpool are now almost certainly going to be without Champions League football for the first time in seven seasons.

Firmino’s 89th-minute equaliser that produced an outpouring of emotion from player and fans alike has delayed official confirmation but for Jurgen Klopp’s side to now finish in the top four, they have to beat Southampton next Sunday – and count on Manchester United losing both of their remaining games at home to Chelsea and Fulham.

It’s not going to happen and after a seven-match winning run, there was disappointment in Liverpool’s performance yesterday, with Jurgen Klopp unable to rouse them from his technical area because of a touchline ban.

Aston Villa, who have climbed from 15th to 7th since Unai Emery was appointed in October, deserved the lead given to them by Jacob Ramsey after 27 minutes and also missed a penalty from the unusually wasteful Ollie Watkins.

The home crowd were frustrated by Villa’s timewasting tactics and conspiracy theorists would have enjoyed the fact referee John Brooks was the fourth official who was yelled at by Klopp at the end of last month’s win against Tottenham.

Roberto Firmino scored a dramatic late goal to rescue a point for Liverpool against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon

The Brazilian wheeled away in celebration after notching on his final Anfield appearance

Jacob Ramsey had given the hosts the lead with a well-taken volley in the first-half

The sense of injustice only increased when Cody Gakpo’s equaliser was ruled out because Virgil van Dijk was judged offside in the build-up – even though Ezri Konsa got the final touch on the way to the big Dutchman.

VAR ruled it was a deflection by Konsa rather than a deliberate touch and Mr Brooks agreed after checking his monitor.

Even so, there was a grand finale with Firmino and fellow departee James Milner introduced with 17 minutes left to great acclaim.

The Brazilian, one of the few who predated Klopp at Anfield having arrived earlier in 2015, was in the right place to turn in Mo Salah’s cross for an equaliser.

He looked to the sky with gratitude but even he couldn’t conjure up the winner in 10 minutes of injury-time.

At the final whistle, he was moved to tears by the crowd’s response to him and got a bearhug from international team-mate Allison.

For once, Klopp wasn’t in the technical area to rouse his troops but sat high up in the stands due to a touchline ban dished out for comments he made about referee Paul Tierney.

Villa took advantage as they continue to chase their own European team which will now be realised if they beat Brighton in their final game.

Cody Gakpo’s strike in the second half was ruled out for offside after Virgil van Dijk strayed beyond Luis Diaz in the build-up

Ollie Watkins missed a crucial spot-kick just moments before Villa ended up taking the lead


Liverpool (4-3-3): Allison 7: Alexander-Arnold 5.5, Konate 5, van Dijk 6, Robertson 6.5 (Tsimikas 72); Jones 6 (Jota 63 6), Fabinho 6.5 (Elliott 81), Henderson 6 (Milner 72); Salah 7, Gakpo 5.5, Diaz 6 (Firmino 72)

Goal: Firmino 89

Subs unused: Kelleher (Gk), Gomez, Matip, Carvalho

Booked: Konate, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho

Manager: Jurgen Klopp 6

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez 7: Cash 6, Konsa 7.5, Mings 7, Digne 6.5 (Moreno 53, Buendia 65 6); Kamara 6, Luiz 7 (Dendoncker 87); Bailey 5.5 (Young 53 6), McGinn 8, Ramsey 7; Watkins 6.5 (Duran 87)

Goal: Ramsey 27

Booked: Mings, Digne, Martinez

Subs unused: Olsen (Gk), Traore, Buendia, Sinisalo

Manager: Unai Emery 7

Liverpool failed to register a single shot on target in the first half while the visitors carried a constant threat, their manager Unai Emery even waging a brief war of words by the dug-out with Liverpool assistant Peter Krawietz.

The pace of Watkins was evident when he raced clear of Ibrahima Konate after 22 minutes forcing the defender into a rash lunge from behind that resulted in a clear penalty.

Unfortunately, Watkins’s composure then deserted him in front of The Kop and he dragged his right-foot finish wide.

Liverpool should have learned their lesson but didn’t. They had four attempts to clear a corner before Douglas Luiz picked up the loose ball and curled in a cross for Ramsey to convert with a cushioned first-time finish.

It was the 21-year-old’s sixth goal of the season but his first outside Villa Park.

Klopp wouldn’t have impressed by some of his side’s defending with Ramsey left in acres of space to force Alisson into a great block.

Even so, Villa themselves had a late scare shortly before the interval when Tyrone Mings caught Cody Gakpo in the chest and survived a VAR check not to get a red card having been shown yellow by Mr Brooks.

Salah registered Liverpool’s first shot on target after 51 minutes and they thought they’d levelled after 53 minutes when Konate’s scuffed shot was cleared off the line by Mings and Gakpo rifled in the rebound, only for a lengthy check to rule Van Dijk had been offside in the build-up.

The arrivals of Milner, Jota and Firmino gave Liverpool fresh impetus in the closing stages. Villa, who had already seen Lucas Digne booked for delaying his exit earlier in the second half, had to hold firm until the 100th minute, the length of injury-time due to their own delaying tactics and regular rolling around.

Firmino was confirmed as one of the four players to be leaving Liverpool at the end of his contract at Anfield this summer

Villa’s Spanish manager Unai Emery claimed that he was ‘proud’ of his players for giving themselves something to play for

Liverpool’s players were joined by their families at full-time in the Merseyside sunshine as they paid tribute not only to Milner and Firmino, but Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain too.

The cold reality however is that when those remaining turn up for pre-season training, it’ll be Thursday nights in the Europa League on their schedule.

Villa boss Emery said: ‘I am proud of my players. I challenged them to have something to play for in our last home game and that will happen.

‘We played very well in the first half but it’s not easy to keep the high press. To take three points would have been fantastic but it was hard in the last 10 minutes with their supporters behind them.’

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