Daniel Sturridge scored his first two goals since March as Liverpool beat Aston Villa in an entertaining game.

Reds midfielder James Milner opened the scoring after 69 seconds against his former club from 20 yards.

Striker Sturridge doubled their lead after the break with a volley following a one-two with Milner, but Rudy Gestede pulled one back from close range.

Sturridge scored his second from Philippe Coutinho’s pass, but Gestede gave Villa hope with a fine header.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had been under pressure after six games without a win, other than Wednesday’s League Cup penalty shootout victory over Carlisle.

Has this relieved the pressure on Rodgers?

Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool’s title challenge two seasons ago under Rodgers seems a long time ago now

Slightly, but probably not that much.

There were plans for Liverpool fans to dress up as Jurgen Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund coach who some would like to see replace Rodgers, though there was little evidence this came to fruition.

Liverpool will be happy to have ended such a poor run and move up to seventh in the Premier League – but they were made to work for victory against one of the worst sides in the division.

The Reds played some decent football for their goals, but they were caught out by Villa twice. Their next Premier League games – against Everton, Tottenham and Southampton – could go a long way to deciding Rodgers’s future.

Is man-of-the-match Sturridge back to top form?

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge came off late on to a great reception

The huge boost from this game for Liverpool was the return of Sturridge’s name to the scoresheet. The England international was making his second appearance since recovering from hip surgery.

While he still has some fitness to gain before reproducing the form that saw him score 24 goals in 2013-14, he was the reason Liverpool won this game.

His first strike was a brilliant volley with the outside of his foot, and the second a calm finish after a one-two with Coutinho, who backheeled the ball to him.

The 26-year-old had two chances to complete his hat-trick in the final 10 minutes. First he failed to beat Micah Richards on the edge of the box, something a fully fit Sturridge might have been able to do. Then he forced a good low save from Brad Guzan who tipped his effort past the post.

Can Gestede keep Villa up?

Average positions

Rudy Gestede (39) was Villa’s most attacking player – but he barely played beyond the halfway line on average – as this average position graphic shows

Gestede, who replaced the injured Gabriel Agbonlahor in the line-up, was the only reason Villa – who played quite defensively – ran Liverpool so close at Anfield.

The Birmingham side, who were unbeaten on their last four trips to Anfield, have now picked up four points from seven games and drop into the relegation zone.

They had only four shots on target against the Reds, with Gestede, a summer signing from Blackburn, scoring both of his – to take him up to four for the season.

His first was a close-range scramble and his second a brilliant towering header as he beat centre-back Mamadou Sakho to a Jordan Amavi cross.

‘Players are behind Rodgers’

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva:

“We wanted to win for the manager. We know what has been said about him and I think we showed we are a group of players behind him and trying to make everything right. The pressure is on him but we wanted to play the way he wanted us to play and I think we did that.”

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood:

“We can’t score two away from home and lose – it happened against Leicester as well. You score twice at Anfield and you expect to leave with something. I’ve told the boys the goals were avoidable and we have to tighten up – Liverpool did not have to work too hard to get them, and we have to put that right.

“Our performances have merited better than one win in seven games but I said from the start it would be an uphill struggle. We need to stay in the division and if we do we will be stronger next year.”

More to follow.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (3)

Liverpool

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 23 Can
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 17 Sakho
  • 02 Clyne
  • 07 Milner
  • 21 Lucas
  • 18 Moreno
  • 10 Coutinho
  • 28 Ings
  • 15 Sturridge (Allen – 94′ )

Substitutes

  • 04 K Touré
  • 12 Gomez
  • 20 Lallana
  • 24 Allen
  • 27 Origi
  • 33 Ibe
  • 34 Bogdan

Aston Villa

  • 01 Guzan
  • 21 Hutton
  • 04 Richards
  • 16 Lescott
  • 23 Amavi
  • 24 Sánchez (Veretout – 60′ )
  • 15 Westwood
  • 08 Gueye
  • 09 Sinclair
  • 39 Gestede
  • 40 Grealish (Traoré – 69′ )

Substitutes

  • 06 Clark
  • 07 Bacuna
  • 17 Veretout
  • 19 J Ayew
  • 20 Traoré
  • 25 Gil
  • 31 Bunn
Ref: Jonathan Moss
Att: 44,228


Match Stats

Possession

62




38

Shots

21




10

On target

12




4

Corners

11




1

Fouls

8




13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2.

90:00 +5:19 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2.

90:00 +4:19

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

90:00 +4:19

Foul by Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa).

90:00 +3:08 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Joe Allen replaces Daniel Sturridge.

90:00 +2:24

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +2:24

Foul by Jordan Veretout (Aston Villa).

87:42

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

87:42

Foul by Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa).

85:23

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Brad Guzan.

85:19

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Danny Ings with a through ball.

84:21

Attempt blocked. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

83:47

Attempt blocked. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

82:32

Foul by Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool).

82:32

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

81:33

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:33

Foul by Adama Traoré (Aston Villa).

80:39

Attempt saved. Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

77:59

Attempt missed. Micah Richards (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Veretout with a cross following a set piece situation.

77:27

Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).

77:27

Adama Traoré (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

76:43

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

73:44

Foul by Danny Ings (Liverpool).

73:44

Jordan Amavi (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

73:04

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Brad Guzan.

73:02

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

72:17

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

72:17

Foul by Jordan Veretout (Aston Villa).

70:01 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 2. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Amavi with a cross.

68:29 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aston Villa. Adama Traoré replaces Jack Grealish.

68:08

Foul by Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool).

68:08

Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:21 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 3, Aston Villa 1. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

65:11 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 1. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alan Hutton with a cross.

64:15

Offside, Liverpool. Danny Ings tries a through ball, but Daniel Sturridge is caught offside.

63:07

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

61:29

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

59:14 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aston Villa. Jordan Veretout replaces Carlos Sánchez.

58:01 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 0. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Milner with a through ball.

54:02

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

54:02

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

53:27

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

52:36

Hand ball by Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa).

52:06

Offside, Aston Villa. Micah Richards tries a through ball, but Scott Sinclair is caught offside.

51:59

Attempt blocked. Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.

51:29

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jordan Amavi.

51:28

Attempt blocked. Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.

51:24

Attempt saved. James Milner (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

50:33

Attempt missed. Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alan Hutton with a cross.

49:44

Offside, Liverpool. Philippe Coutinho tries a through ball, but Danny Ings is caught offside.

49:11

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Alan Hutton.

48:53

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Micah Richards.

48:51

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Danny Ings.

47:31

Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

47:31

Foul by Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa).

45:00

Second Half begins Liverpool 1, Aston Villa 0.

45:00 +1:07 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Liverpool 1, Aston Villa 0.

45:00 +0:11

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

43:55

Delay in match Carlos Sánchez (Aston Villa) because of an injury.

42:33

Attempt saved. Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

41:03

Attempt missed. Micah Richards (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ashley Westwood with a cross following a corner.

40:25

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Martin Skrtel.

40:19

Attempt blocked. Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott Sinclair.

39:11

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

39:11

Foul by Carlos Sánchez (Aston Villa).

37:12

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Rudy Gestede.

36:46

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Brad Guzan.

36:39

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

35:08

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

35:08

Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:24

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

33:24

Foul by Jordan Amavi (Aston Villa).

32:47

Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).

32:47

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:19

Foul by Danny Ings (Liverpool).

31:19

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:35

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Joleon Lescott.

26:50

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Carlos Sánchez.

21:27

Attempt missed. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

21:11

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:11

Foul by Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa).

19:56

Attempt missed. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

15:46

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Ashley Westwood.

14:29

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jordan Amavi.

13:10

Offside, Liverpool. James Milner tries a through ball, but Alberto Moreno is caught offside.

12:13

Attempt saved. Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

8:35

Attempt missed. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by James Milner.

7:57

Attempt saved. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Emre Can.

7:13

Danny Ings (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:13

Foul by Carlos Sánchez (Aston Villa).

6:16

Attempt missed. Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jordan Amavi with a cross.

4:00

Attempt saved. Emre Can (Liverpool) header from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Alberto Moreno with a cross.

3:08

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

3:08

Foul by Jordan Amavi (Aston Villa).

2:14

Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:14

Foul by Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa).

1:06 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 1, Aston Villa 0. James Milner (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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