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Mane Gets Injury-time Goal to Give Liverpool Win at Aston Villa

Liverpool

Liverpool scored two late goals – including a dramatic injury-time winner from Sadio Mane – as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa and preserve their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

With their 10-month long unbeaten league record seemingly about to end, the Reds dug deep to conjure a stellar finish, begun when Andy Robertson arrived at the back post to head them level.

Mane then provided the final, remarkable twist, glancing a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner past Tom Heaton and into the far corner of the net.

It was a cruel blow to Villa, who had led from the 21st minute through summer-signing Trezeguet’s first goal for the club – a volleyed finish from John McGinn’s free-kick.

The home side had shown huge endeavour, in a display that saw them match the European champions in the first half and then hold them largely at arm’s length until the dying moments of the second.

Liverpool’s win means they retain their advantage over second-placed Manchester City, who staged their own comeback to beat Southampton and visit Anfield for a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash next Sunday.

Having won two on the bounce last month, Villa have now lost back-to-back games – admittedly to the league’s top two sides – leaving them in 16th place, three points above the relegation zone.

The old adage goes that good sides find a way to win, even when they play badly. And Liverpool keep finding a way.

They have done a number of times this season, repeatedly in Europe in recent seasons, and managed it again here.

This was not a good Liverpool display, but it was a winning one.

They lacked control for large parts, were rattled by a hard-working opponent and lacked their usual composure in front of goal until Robertson and then Mane seized the initiative.

Part of this could be down to the absence of Fabinho, benched by Jurgen Klopp with the looming shadow of Man City next weekend and the fact one more yellow would have seen the Brazilian sit out that game.

Fabinho – nicknamed ‘Dyson’ by his manager after last weekend’s win over Tottenham for his ability to “hoover up” danger – has been magnificent in midfield this season.

His replacement, Adam Lallana, spent the summer retraining for the deeper role but he lacks the authority and composure of the man he replaced.

Too often he dwelt on the ball and found himself swarmed by Villa players, failing to provide the platform on which his side could build.

He was also guilty of a glaring miss in the second half, slicing well wide from a cut-back from Roberto Firmino, who had earlier been denied himself when an offside flag ruled out his neat finish.

He was not alone in his profligacy, though, with Mane and Mohamed Salah also spurning good opportunities to give their side a less stressful afternoon.

However, with 31 points from 11 games this season, Liverpool will have to set an unwanted precedent if they are to end this campaign without the top-flight trophy.

The two clubs with the same tally at this stage of a Premier League season – Chelsea in 2005-06 and Man City in 2017-18 – both went on to win the title.

If they indeed win the title, it will have been because of the grit they demonstrated in the final moments here, as well as the guile they have showed for much of the last 10 months.

Source: BBC

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