Douglas Luis and Sadio Mane were among the players who stood out as Liverpool eked a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Tuesday.

Aston Villa started the game strongly, taking the lead in the third minute, as Douglas Luiz scored from point-blank range at the second time of asking after Alisson Becker made a tame save from his initial effort. But Liverpool hit back almost instantly with a chaotic set-piece, with Joel Matip finding the back of the net after receiving the ball from Virgil van Dijk as bodies tumbled around him.

Both sides then had the chance to add to their tallies, but poor finishing let them down, with Danny Ings, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita spurning golden opportunities. The second half began just as the first had ended, but the end-to-end nature of the game eased off as Liverpool started to take control of the proceedings.

The Reds were efficient in this phase and went ahead midway through the second period when Mane headed in from a low Luis Diaz cross, with Emiliano Martinez knowing nothing about it. Aston Villa then carved out two brilliant chances, but Alisson stood resolutely in the Liverpool goal to deny Ings on both occasions.

In the end, Liverpool held on to claim all three points and go level with Manchester City, who are ahead on goal difference and will have to chance to reinstate the buffer when they lock horns with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.

Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez: 6/10

Martinez could not have done anything to keep out either Liverpool goal after the defenders sold him short. The Argentine international made a few decent saves but endured an otherwise quiet evening.

Matty Cash: 7/10

Cash was the best defender for Aston Villa on Tuesday as he had the measure of Diogo Jota for the most part, with the Portuguese international only getting the better of him in one moment. The 24-year-old also made a fantastic clearance off the line while giving Kostas Tsimikas plenty to worry about during his forays into the final third.

Ezri Konsa: 6/10

Konsa was reasonably solid at the back and covered Mane well for the most part. But he could not stop the Liverpool forward from scoring the winner while losing Virgil van Dijk in the build-up to Matip’s goal. Still, he won six duels while completing four clearances in a decent showing.

Tyrone Mings: 5/10

The Aston Villa captain was a busy customer at the back, but he needs to cop the blame for the defeat after getting caught out of position for both the Liverpool goals.

Lucas Digne: 7/10

Digne’s return has coincided with Aston Villa looking much more threatening in their offensive phases. The Frenchman played his part in the opener, as Douglas Luiz headed his cross towards Alisson before scoring from the rebound. Digne was busy at the back, completing crucial tackles (two), clearances (three) and interceptions (four).

Douglas Luiz: 7/10

Luiz showed good hustle to beat Kostas Tsimikas before scoring at the second time of asking following a tame save by Alisson Becker. The Brazilian international then settled in well to keep his Liverpool counterparts quiet for much of the game. Luiz won five duels while completing a couple of interceptions.

Marvelous Nakamba: 5/10

Nakamba was understandably slightly off-colour in his first start since December. The 28-year-old should have done better in dealing with the set-piece situation in the build-up to the equaliser. But he slowly found his feet and did well to keep a lid on Curtis Jones in the first half. However, his output on the ball was lacklustre, and he will need to step up in the final three games.

John McGinn: 6/10

McGinn was typically industrious in the middle of the park and went into challenges with purpose. And while he created one superb chance, his passing worsened as the minutes wore on. Nonetheless, it was a solid display by the Scot.

Philippe Coutinho: 6/10

Coutinho played for the first time against Liverpool since returning to the Premier League and had the measure of Trent Alexander-Arnold on a few occasions. But his influence waned as the game progressed, and he needs to rediscover his best form heading into next season when he will likely play for Aston Villa again.

Ollie Watkins: 7/10

Watkins did not see the ball fall his way as much as he would have liked, but when he did see the action, he looked like he would make a difference. The Englishman created a superb chance for Danny Ings, only for his strike partner to fail to finish it.

Danny Ings: 5/10

Ings will rue the missed chances, as he had two opportunities to get Aston Villa back into the game. But Alisson denied him on both occasions, meaning it was not a happy outing against former side Liverpool.

SUBSTITUTES

Carney Chukwuemeka: 6/10

Chukwuemeka was solid after replacing Nakamba, winning both the duels he contested while also completing all nine of his attempted passes. But he did not see the ball falling his way as often as he would have liked.

Emiliano Buendia: 6/10

Buendia showed some nice touches after replacing Coutinho but could not carve open a clear-cut chance for a teammate in the final stretch.

Bertrand Traore: N/A

Traore barely had any time to make an impact.

Liverpool

Alisson Becker: 7/10

Alisson did not cover himself in glory with the tame save from Luiz’s initial effort. He then very nearly paid the price for gifting the ball to Watkins before coming away scot-free. But Alisson was at hand to keep out two efforts by Ings after Liverpool took the lead, thereby playing his part in earning the Reds three points.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10

Alexander-Arnold started the game slowly and was out of position in the build-up to Luiz’s goal. But the English international slowly found his feet and delivered a beautiful low cross that Naby Keita failed to convert. That said, he was sloppy on the ball at times and will need to be more efficient on Saturday against Chelsea.

Joel Matip: 7/10

Matip left a lot to be desired with his defending in the build-up to the opener. But the experienced defender made amends with a superb finish from close range at the other end. Matip then did well to keep a check on Ings while making numerous crucial clearances (five) and interceptions (two).

Virgil van Dijk: 6.5/10

Virgil van Dijk was imperious in the air again and showed brilliant awareness to set Matip up for the equaliser. But he was out of position in the build-up to Luiz’s goal, while Ings found a way past him on a couple of occasions. He has not been at his best this season but needs to rediscover top form ahead of the two finals.

Kostas Tsimikas: 6.5/10

Tsimikas blew hot and cold on Tuesday, but when it got good, it got really good. His last-ditch challenge on Watkins was brilliant, but the Greek defender also faced some hairy moments off the ball. Tsimikas also deserved an assist for a beautifully whipped cross for Sadio Mane in the first half and was generally threatening in the final third.

Naby Keita: 6/10

Like many Liverpool players, Keita did not necessarily enjoy himself in the first half when Aston Villa overran him with ease. He also missed a brilliant opening from Alexander-Arnold, but he grew into the game as the minutes wore on and came close to scoring in the second half.

Fabinho: 4/10

Fabinho endured a nightmarish outing on Tuesday, as Aston Villa bypassed him with ease in the opening half an hour before he went off with a suspected hamstring injury. Klopp will be sweating over his fitness in the coming days.

Curtis Jones: 6/10

Jones made a rare start on Tuesday but took some time to get going. The game passed him by in the first half, but he did well to push Liverpool forward whenever he had the ball falling his way. He could have done more to support Tsimikas defensively.

Luis Diaz: 7/10

Diaz continues to find ways to influence the proceedings for Liverpool. The Colombian played on the right-wing against Aston Villa, but he continued to carry a significant threat. He set up the match-winner for Sadio Mane, whose header was brilliant.

Sadio Mane: 7/10

Mane should have done better to convert Kostas Tsimikas’s brilliant cross in the first half, but he directed his header wide. That was as good as it got for him in a tough first half, but the Senegalese international made no error in nodding in from Diaz’s cross for the match-winner, which was a more difficult chance than the one in the first half.

Diogo Jota: 6/10

Jota blew hot and cold playing from the left flank, but he played his part in both goals, especially in the second, where he kept the play alive before linking up with Diaz. But the Portuguese forward struggled to topple Matty Cash for the most part, while his first touch deserted him a lot. He has rightly fallen down the pecking order.

SUBSTITUTES

Jordan Henderson: 7/10

Henderson replaced Fabinho at the half-hour mark and immediately helped Liverpool take over the control of the proceedings. The Liverpool captain was overrun in a couple of moments, but he was generally solid in the middle of the park.

Thiago Alcantara: 6.5/10

Thiago helped Liverpool control the proceedings in the final half an hour, misplacing only one pass while opening up play nicely with several long balls. But there were one or two moments when he looked troubled off the ball.

Mohamed Salah: 6/10

Salah showed some neat touches in the final 20 minutes, but he could not get into a dangerous scoring position. After his recent comments about Real Madrid and the upcoming UEFA Champions League final, the Liverpool talisman needs to get his best form back soon.

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