Sat 11th August 2007 (5:15pm) at Villa Park
Liverpool broke their 5 year opening day hoodoo with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, thoroughly deserved, but snatched as the minutes ticked down.
When Liverpool woke up 15 minutes in to the game the enterprise of Torres and Kuyt began to look very promising for Liverpool's future. Liverpool's first chance of the campaign fell to the new Spanish striker, but he lost his balance and failed to get the chance on target. No problems for Stevie G, who managed to find the target moments later but for Villa's keeper to make an easy save.
The danger of Torres and the determination of Kuyt combined for Liverpool's opening goal. A Kuyt dummy enabled Torres to get his shot in, when the keeper parried Kuyt made sure the ball was fired low in to the 6 yard box and Villa's Laursen put the ball in the back of his net to save the advancing reds the trouble. Liverpool then had a strong spell of possession but failed to get that second goal.
It looked like the Gods were ready to wipe the smile off Rafa's face when after he had made a couple of substitutions, Jamie Carragher gave away a penalty for handball with 5 minutes remaining. Carragher had organised the defence well all game, combining with Agger to keep the reins on the pacy Agbonlahor and the height of Carew. There were to be no Jose Reina heroics today however and Gareth Barry scored, leaving the reds standing on a point.
However, Liverpool were determined that Villa would not snatch the result and when Petrov fouled Gerrard 30 yards out a couple of minutes later, Gerrard despatched the goal of the day with an exquisite curling, dipping, free kick. Cue massive celebrations from the skipper and the travelling faithful.
Liverpool have broken the opening day jinx, showed a never say die attitude late on, and finally look like we have some serious attacking threat.
Post Match comments:
We deserved to win the game and it was a special goal from Gerrard.
We showed great character after Villa were given a penalty and we kept going forward and got the goal. It was important for us to win the first game.
I know we created a lot of chances but you have to say the Villa goalkeeper was really good and he was the man of the match.
I thought Torres did well and worked hard and his understanding with Kuyt was really good.
Aston Villa: Taylor, Gardner, Mellberg, Laursen (Cahill 46), Bouma (Moore 71), Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Agbonlahor, Carew, Young.
Subs Not Used: Harewood, Osbourne, Maloney.
Booked: Mellberg, Bouma, Barry, Petrov.
Goals: Barry 85 pen.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Pennant (Babel 74), Gerrard, Alonso, Riise, Torres (Voronin 79), Kuyt (Sissoko 90).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Hyypia.
Booked: Pennant, Reina.
Goals: Laursen 31 og, Gerrard 87.
Ref: Mike Riley (England).
Match highlights and Goals: