Thursday, May 23, 2024

Aston Villa 3-3 Liverpool: Duran’s dramatic late double edges Villa towards Champions League spot

SoccerNews in English Premier League 13 May 2024

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Jhon Duran’s dramatic late double earned Aston Villa a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Villa Park, but the hosts will still have to wait before they can be sure of sealing a top-four Premier League finish.

Duran came off the bench to score in the 85th and 88th minutes to help Villa avoid what had looked set to be a fourth straight defeat in all competitions.

Emiliano Martinez’s own goal gifted Liverpool the lead two minutes in on Monday and Cody Gakpo restored that advantage for the visitors after Youri Tielemans had Unai Emery’s side level.

It looked like Jarell Quansah’s first goal for the Reds early in the second half had sealed the victory, but Duran’s late intervention ensured Villa emerged from the game with a valuable point.

Villa remain in fourth place, now five points clear of Tottenham, their rivals for a Champions League spot. Spurs have a game in hand but must beat title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday to take the battle to the final day. Liverpool stay third on 79 points.

Emery’s men found themselves behind just 61 seconds into the game with a moment to forget for Martinez as he failed to hold onto Harvey Elliott’s cross, letting it roll over the line.

Despite Liverpool’s bright start, Villa equalised against the run of play – Ollie Watkins pulled it back to Tielemans, who drilled a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

Gakpo restored the Reds’ lead in the 23rd minute, meeting Joe Gomez’s low cross to fire into an empty net, with the on-field decision confirmed after a VAR review for an offside in the build-up.

Diego Carlos should have dragged Villa level again before the break, but with an open net to aim for at close range, he could only guide his shot wide of the far post.

Liverpool started the second half brightly, with Quansah netting his first goal for the club with a towering, unmarked header into the top-left corner before offside decisions denied both sides more goals.

Watkins thought he had scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season when he guided it past Alisson, but it was disallowed following a VAR review as Leon Bailey set off too early in the build-up.

Minutes later, Elliott skipped in front of Mohamed Salah to poke Luis Diaz’s cross past a stranded Martinez, but the flag was up against the Colombian.

Duran’s introduction flipped the momentum back in Villa’s favour, as the substitute scored twice in three minutes to salvage a draw – he drilled the first into the bottom-corner after dispossessing Alexis Mac Allister before perhaps fortuitously flicking Moussa Diaby’s pass over Alisson and into the net.

Home comforts for Villa

Villa knew a win here would confirm fourth spot and Champions League football, and while they did not quite achieve that, this was a small and significant step towards securing it.

Though they were not helped by Martinez’s mistake in the second minute, with the goalkeeper scoring the earliest own goal since Antolin Alcaraz (54 seconds) for Everton against Southampton in April 2014, Villa kept fighting to get a result.

The Villans are now unbeaten in their final home game of the season in each of the last five campaigns since their promotion back to the top-flight in 2019, winning three and drawing two. They have Duran to thank for that record extending, and they will now watch Spurs’ match against City with great interest.

Quick starts boost Reds

In Jurgen Klopp’s penultimate game in charge of Liverpool, his side showed signs of their free-scoring best once more.

Quansah’s header was the 140th goal across all competitions for Liverpool this season – it is their second-highest scoring campaign in the club’s history after 2021-22 (147).

They made bright starts to both halves and were rewarded with goals inside the opening three minutes each time to put themselves in control.

However, another defensive lapse at the back, similar to the one they had against Tottenham, ultimately cost them two points. The Reds finish their season at home to Wolves on Sunday.

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