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BBC football correspondent Mike Ingham
With a round-up of the action from Villa Park
 real 14k

Liverpool's Jari Litmanen
"There are a lot of quality players in our squad"
 real 14k

Saturday, 13 January, 2001, 16:58 GMT
Liverpool brush Villa aside
David Ginola
David Ginola had little impact on this contest
Aston Villa 0-3 Liverpool

A very professional Liverpool brushed aside Aston Villa for only their third Premiership win away from home this season.

Two goals from Danny Murphy and a vintage strike by Steven Gerrard condemned Villa to their heaviest defeat of the season in front of a crowd in excess of 41,000.

Gerard Houllier's side move into fourth place in the table, with a game in hand over most of their rivals.

While the visitors accomplised their victory without Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen in the starting line-up, Villa were without midfield duo George Boateng and Ian Taylor.

Liverpool's first half performance was the sort they have delivered frequently this season at home.


I think in the second half of the season, we will get stronger, especially away from home
  Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier

Aside from the two goals by Murphy and Gerrard, they controlled the tempo of the game and were seldom troubled by the lacklustre Villa side.

Villa were restricted to just two real attempts on goal.

That included a Paul Merson long range shot in the opening minute which was held by Sander Westerveld and a Dion Dublin header which was at least five yards wide.

The visitors were otherwise untroubled, with newcomer Jari Litmanen adding immensely to their attacking options.

It was his pass which found Gerrard breaking through the Villa defence and only a good save from David James foiled the England man.

Only the speed of James from his goal-line prevented three Liverpool counter-attacks from gaining anything before Murphy broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.


Liverpool took their chances well today and it was a bad mistake for the first goal and their second goal killed us off.
  Aston Villa manager John Gregory

A mix-up between the keeper and Alpay presented the ball to Murphy, whose opening shot from 25 yards hit the post, before he followed in the rebound to thrash the ball home.

Alpay's frustration led him to argue very publicly with James, an action which brought a stern lecture from referee Graham Barber.

The moment of the match was to come soon after, with Gerrard's super strike.

After controlling possession for over a minute, Litmanen took control and flicked onto the on-rushing England midfielder who smashed a glorious shot past James.

To underline Alpay's terrible first half, he made a mistake in the 44th minute which almost let in Heskey and then brought down Litmanen to earn a yellow card.

Shocking miss

Villa boss John Gregory made two half-time changes, taking off the miserable Alpay and David Ginola and replacing them with Darius Vassell and youngster John McGrath.

It could have been 3-0 shortly after the restart when Emile Heskey shot horribly wide after being put clean through by Vladimir Smicer's pass.

But Murphy's second goal made that miss a shortlived memory in the 52nd minute.

It resulted from a strong Heskey run down the Villa right, the ball arriving at Murphy's feet inside the penalty area, with his shot flying past James courtesy of Gareth Southgate's deflection.

That goal killed the game as a contest, with Liverpool seldom troubled and frequently breaking through the Villa defence, with both Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann having attempts on goal.

Visiting manager Houllier was able to rest Litmanen and Heskey by the end, while Villa fans were left to hope that new signing Juan Pablo Angel, paraded at half-time, can bring an end to their goalscoring problems.


Aston Villa: James, Wright, Southgate, Alpay, Samuel, Staunton, Ginola, Stone, Barry, Dublin, Merson. Subs: Hitzlsperger, Vassell, McGrath, Standing, Enckelman.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Babbel, Carragher, Hyypia, Gerrard, Murphy, Hamann, Litmanen, Smicer, Heskey. Subs: Owen, Barmby, McAllister, Biscan, Nielsen.

Referee: G Barber (Tring)

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