O'Leary delighted with point
By Paul Higham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
David O'Leary was relieved to get away with a draw
Nolberto Solano cancelled out Harry Kewell's opener when
converting a dubious free kick, in a first half
dominated by the visitors.
Liverpool were left frustrated as they could not turn
their dominance into goals, and O'Leary was glad to get
a point from the match.
"I'm doing headstands over getting a point," beamed
O'Leary. "I thought in the first half we got totally out
of jail and were outclassed.
"I was worried all week because I thought Gerrard,
[Xabi] Alonso and [Dietmar] Hamann would all be in
midfield and that could be a bit of a mismatch in that
"We couldn't live with the quality in the first half and
they should have scored more goals in the first half.
"They were able to almost walk the ball in the net for
their goal and then we scored from a free-kick which is
about all we did in the first half.
"In the second half it was more even in every way. To
dig in during the second half was a plus point and I
also thought the young lad Steven Davis did particularly
well in midfield particularly considering the company he
O'Leary was amazed with the display Steven Gerrard put
in playing in his new advanced role.
"I joked to him, `don't you think you should come off
and save yourself for the Champions League on
"Gerrard had that licence to break forward and he is one
of those certain players that makes the players around
him play even better.
"I think when Gerrard is in the team they are a lot
better and their players know that and are delighted to
have him in there - and just imagine what he would have
been like had he gone to Chelsea."
frustrated by Villa draw
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez declared himself a frustrated manager
after seeing his side totally dominate Aston Villa but
only come away from Villa Park with a point.
Benitez felt this was Liverpool's best away performance
of the season but added his team weren't clinical enough
as they should have put the game beyond Villa.
Benitez said: "I am frustrated as we played very well in
the first half and created a lot of chances. We must
have had eight or 10 good openings but if you don't
score what can you do?
"We have improved the level of our away performance and
the first half was just as good as the Arsenal game."
On the subject of Villa's controversial equaliser when
Gavin McCann looked to have taken a theatrical fall
after a challenge from Jamie Carragher, Benitez refused
to offer it as an excuse for not winning the game.
Benitez said: "For me it wasn't a free-kick but I'll
have to see it again on the TV, but that happens in
"We didn't play as well in the second half but we still
created good chances and I don't think they had many. I
heard the Villa coaches at half time telling their team
that they had to keep the ball better and close us down.
We did a lot of running in the first half so maybe some
of the players were a little tired."
By Paul Higham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
The Reds took the lead in a first half they totally
dominated when Harry Kewell nodded home from close range
to end his long goal scoring drought.
Nolberto Solano stunned the visitors with a leveller a
minute before half time from a controversial free kick
awarded by Mark Halsey.
Rafa Benitez's side were left to rue that decision, and
their inability to turn possession and chances into
goals and it again looks like the Spanish boss is
desperate to get to the January transfer window to
strengthen his attacking options.
Neil Mellor started brightly, obviously buoyed after his
glorious winner against Arsenal last Sunday, and he
tested Thomas Sorensen with a good early shot.
The first half was all Liverpool and Antonion Nunez's
cross found Steven Gerrard at the far post, but his
knock down could not be converted by Mellor.
The Reds took the lead in the 16th minute when Harry
Kewell grabbed his first goal for 34 games when he
headed in Jamie Carragher's nod across goal - following
Gerrard's free kick.
Mellor had his best chance just before the half hour,
when his slightly scuffed effort from a right-wing cross
headed for the far corner, only for Sorensen to fly
across his goal and palm away at full stretch.
Gerrard then volleyed over the bar when he arrived at
the far post from Xabi Alonso's cross, and David
O'Leary's were struggling to mount a meaningful attack.
Sorensen had to be on the ball again to repel another
Gerrard shot as Liverpool could, and should have had
more to shot for their dominance.
However, they were stung just a minute before half time
when Solano fired in a free kick that Chris Kirkland
should have done better with.
Carragher was fuming with referee Mark Halsey after
Gavin McCann went looking for a free kick, and looked to
have hung his leg out to get the contact with the
Solano's set piece was well hit but it went in right
above Kirkland's head and the England hopeful will feel
he should have done better.
Liverpool started the second half as they had done the
first, and Gerrard tried his luck from a free kick but
Sorensen was there again to save his effort, and the
rebound from Steve Finnan.
Gerrard was shooting from all angles but could not find
a finish as Benitez's side had most of the ball again,
but the lack of firepower available again threatened to
scupper their chances of three points.
Solano went close again with another free kick, but
Villa forays forward were few and far between as
Liverpool searched for a second goal.
Kewell was moved up front when Mellor was replaced by
Djimi Traore, and the Australian had a good opportunity
when Gerrard's header put him in, but he took too long
to line up his right footed effort allowing Mark Delaney
to get in a last-ditch block.
Solano had a late chance but blazed wide left footed,
but it is Liverpool who will feel the hardest done to
after being forced to settle for a point.
The visitors had the better of the chances and the
possession but with a lack of cutting edge again proving