After The Match 


Liverpool-Aston Villa 3-1 (1-0)       29.04.06                        PL
Goals: Morientes (5), Gerrard (60 & 66)         Barry (58)
Team: Reina, Kromkamp, Hyypia, Carragher, Traore, Cisse, Alonso, Gerrard, Riise, Morientes, Crouch
Subs: Fowler (Crouch 62), Sissoko (Cisse 65), Warnock (Riise 74)
Not used: Dudek, Agger
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: M Halsey
Attendance: 44,479  
Shots on target: 8-2
Shots off target: 6-3
Possession: 60-40
Fouls conceded: 8-12
Corners: 6-5
Offsides: 2-6
Yellow: 0-0
Red: 0-0
the best
of Gerrard..."
   Rafael Benitez

2904: Reds will fight for second
2904: O'Leary: Beaten "by a world class player"
2904: Gerrard at the double for Reds

Reds will fight for second

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

Rafael Benitez promises that Liverpool will keep up the pressure on Manchester United for runners-up spot, but does not expect the Old Trafford men to slip up now.

Liverpool eventually cruised to a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa that saw them on equal points with United, and a goal difference of four worse.

With United having two home games to finish the season, the Anfield chief does not really expect to see his side finishing second.

But Benitez said: "First of all I must congratulate Chelsea, they have done a really good job to win the title.

"We will keep working to be second, but I do not really expect United to slip up with two home games left.

"It will be difficult for us, and we are close to them now. But they must lose and we must win our last game at Portsmouth and cut back their goal difference.

"We must wait and see what happens in midweek but we will keep hoping."

Benitez hailed two-goal hero Steven Gerrard, saying: "You saw the best of Gerrard, he took the game to a different level after they had equalised.

"We must thank him for the win. When you are in that position you need your best players with quality to get you through, and Steven has all those attributes."

O'Leary: Beaten "by a world class player"

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary insisted that his future remains at the club, after claiming the Midlanders had been beaten "by a world class player" in Gerrard.

He said: "You can bet that I will be manager next season. People in the game know what is happening at this club and the big expectations at Villa.

"But I was unable to do anything in the last transfer window, we have had to use the youngsters and dig in to get ourselves across the line.

"We budget for 10th or 12th place, and we have not done that so this has not been a good season. We will give another couple of youngsters their chance before the end of the season and we have had to rely on our youngsters.

"If someone else comes into the club and has money and wants to change things, so be it. But I am not expecting it.

"I was told a few days ago that I must sell before I can buy, and that is what will happen. The good thing is that we have had to use the youngsters and they have done well, they will be part of our future."

O'Leary added: "We have been giving away soft goals, and did it again for their first one. It was lack of experience, the second was poor marking and the third was just a brilliant goal from a world class player."

Gerrard at the double for Reds

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Liverpool boosted their hopes of finishing second with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Anfield.

The Reds ensured they finished their season at Anfield in style with two second half strikes from Steven Gerrard helping them to their tenth win on the trot.

Gareth Barry cancelled out Fernando Morientes's early opener before Gerrard took control to move Liverpool level on points with Manchester United in the battle to finish second.

Liverpool got off to a perfect start, breaking the deadlock after just four minutes through Morientes with their first serious attack of the game.

The goal was made in Spain with Xabi Alonso sending Morientes clear on goal and the former Real Madrid man turned Gary Cahill inside out before sweeping his left-footed shot low past Thomas Sorensen.

Peter Crouch had a half chance three minutes later with an acrobatic overhead kick which Sorensen comfortably collected.

Villa captain Olof Mellberg had the first chance for the visitors on nine minutes when he headed James Milner's corner wide of the target.

Gerrard forced Sorensen into a good save on 16 minutes with a fierce strike from the edge of the area which the Dane saved low down to his right.

Villa missed a great chance to draw level on 35 minutes when James Milner - from inside his own half - burst past two Liverpool challenges and crossed at the far post for Barry who headed his effort into the ground and over the crossbar.

Djimi Traore came close to scoring on 36 minutes when he latched onto Crouch's flick inside the box, but his poked shot was cleared away from right under his own crossbar by Wilfred Bouma.

John Arne Riise tried his luck on 38 minutes when he took Jan Kromkamp's pass in his stride and sliced a right-footed shot well wide of the target.

Liverpool skipper Gerrard had the last chance of the half on 43 minutes when Riise chested Kromkamp's cross into his path, but the midfielder blazed his shot well over the top.

Villa replaced Milan Baros at the break with Juan Pablo Angel and they started the second half in determined fashion.

Liverpool almost gifted them a goal on 48 minutes when Jose Reina kicked his clearance against Angel and he had to rush back and collect the ball in front of his own goal much to his own relief.

Crouch had a good chance for Liverpool on 50 minutes when Djibril Cisse sped past Mellberg down the right and crossed for Crouch inside the box, but the England striker hit his left-footed shot off target.

Morientes went close to scoring his second of the game minutes later when Crouch headed the ball down into the path of his strike partner and he hit a left-footed half volley which Sorensen did well to keep out.

Villa drew level on 58 minutes when Aaron Hughes broke down the right and sent over a dangerous cross which Angel somehow missed at the front post, but Barry was on hand to slot home from close range.

The visitors really should have gone in front a minute later when Milner robbed Sami Hyypia of possession to send Gabriel Agbonlahor clear on goal, but with only Reina to beat the youngster curled his shot wide.

Liverpool made him pay for that miss just past the hour mark when Gerrard met Alonso's corner at the near post to flick the ball past Sorensen.

The newly crowned PFA Player of the Year then put the game beyond Villa on 66 minutes with a stunning strike.

Gerrard picked up a pass from Morientes 30 yards from goal and the midfielder lashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner past a despairing dive from Sorensen.

Reina denied Villa a second goal on 70 minutes when he produced a fine reaction stop to keep out Barry's deflected shot.

Liverpool substitute Robbie Fowler almost got in on the act on 79 minutes when Gerrard picked him out inside the box and the striker hit his right-footed shot just wide of the target.

Villa substitute Craig Gardner had a chance to reduce the arrears in the dying seconds when the ball broke to him inside the box, but Reina was quickly off his line to block his shot.

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Thor Zakariassen