Firmino’s Late Goal Rescues Liverpool, Aston Villa’s Europa League Hopes Dented
Roberto Firmino came off the bench to net the 90th minute equalizer in his final Liverpool home game against an impressive Aston Villa
Reds came into the contest on the back of a resurgence in form, winning their last seven league games to spark hopes of playing in Europe’s elite club competition next season. However Villa had other plans, they executed their game plan to perfection and were on trial to derail any hopes Liverpool had of securing a Champions League spot.
Villa started the match strong, dominating play but Liverpool having small glimmers of hope throughout the first half, the visitors were finally given a golden opportunity to turn the match on its head after Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate tripped Ollie Watkins inside the box. However, he was not able to convert from the spot kick, sending his shot wide.
Under the new leadership of Unai Emery, Villa has been enjoying a resurgence in form since the departure of the previous manager, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. This was evident when Jacob Ramsey expertly volleyed Douglas Louis’s cross into the back of the net to break the deadlock. Ramsey came close to doubling his tally but was denied by a resolute Alisson Becker.
VIlla were lucky to have not gone down to 10 men in the first half. Defender Tyrone Mings caught Cody Gakpo in the chest with a high challenge.The referee however, deemed a yellow card to be sufficient for the challenge after a quick Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Check.
Liverpool picked up the pace after the opposition scored, with Cody Gakpo converting from close range after a chaotic passage of play. But after another lengthy VAR check the goal was ruled out due to an offside in the buildup.
The Reds’ bid for the top four looked to be over as they trailed by a goal heading into the final minutes of the game. However in the dying moments of the game, there was a final twist.
Enter: Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian jumped off the bench to convert from Mohamed Salah’s cross in the 90th minute of play. Anfield burst into ecstatic celebration with new hope being injected into the crowd for a late winner. In spite of the 10 minutes of additional time the Reds were not able to capitalize as a stout Villa defense held firm.
Marking the end of an era after pulling on the famous red shirt a total of 361 times, the Brazilian Forward will be leaving the club in the summer. Firmino has been instrumental in many notable moments including helping the Red’s to their first ever Premier League Trophy and also lifting the Champions league trophy during his time at Anfield.
James Milner was not forgotten of course as he was given a generous send off in his final game at Anfield at full time, however Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who are also leaving, missed out due to injury.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are left stranded three points behind Newcastle United and Manchester United. Liverpool must win their final game at Southampton and hope for a slip up from their rivals to keep their Champions League hopes alive.The fact that it remains mathematically possible, although very unlikely, is only due to the late equalizer from Firmino.
Villa, meanwhile, missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham and claim sixth place as a result of a late concession that put a dent in their Europa League bid. They have, however, guaranteed a Top 10 finish for the first time in 12 years, with many excited for the future under Unai Emery.
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