At the end of a day when Manchester City made a dangerous new blockbuster addition for next season, Jurgen Klopp’s gamble on his own squad depth paid off to keep Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
Klopp’s side got off to the worst possible start, conceding within minutes. There was some controversy around the goal, but this cannot explain away the catalogue of defensive errors that led to it.
Aston Villa broke the deadlock just three minutes in through Douglas Luiz, who took advantage of some poor defending from Liverpool to beat his compatriot, Alisson.
Two minutes and 39 seconds later, Matip prodded home an equalizer after Villa passed up more than one chance to clear a free-kick, with the center-back sliding in from close range to get things back level. But Liverpool gradually took control of the game and had Sadio Mane to thank.
The Senegalese hitman headed in his 22nd goal of the season 25 minutes from time to keep the heat on their rivals at the summit after Steven Gerrard’s Villans had given the Merseysiders a real scare. He has been nothing short of talismanic in the run-in, and delivered yet another timely reminder amid recent links to Bayern Munich.
Liverpool lost Fabinho to injury on the half-hour while Villa went close again when Philippe Coutinho shot narrowly over against his former side.
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday but there will be concerns over the fitness of Fabinho who was withdrawn in the first half with what looked like a hamstring issue.
The result leaves Liverpool second in the Premier League table, tied with City on points but having played a game more, with Guardiola’s men also three goals better off in the goal difference column.