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Page last updated at 21:42 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Aston Villa   0 - 1   Liverpool

Liverpool celebrate Fernando Torres' winner against Aston villa
Torres gave Liverpool only their fourth win in 10 league games

By David Ornstein

Fernando Torres scored in the 93rd minute to give Liverpool a dramatic late victory over Aston Villa.

The Reds' season of frustration looked set to continue as Villa produced a spirited display in snowy conditions.

Steven Gerrard went close, Pepe Reina denied Stewart Downing and Gabriel Agbonlahor, and John Carew headed wide.

A draw beckoned but Torres raced on to a ricochet and slotted in, setting a record for reaching 50 league goals for Liverpool in the fewest appearances.

The Spaniard strike provided a pulsating end to a disappointing encounter and Liverpool's joy at snatching a morale-boosting three points was clear for all to see.

606: DEBATE
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Torres will dominate the headlines having notched 50 goals in 72 Premier League matches, but much of the credit should go to Pepe Reina, who kept his team in contention with a couple of magnificent saves.

He helped Liverpool to only their sixth win from 19 matches in all competitions, which lifts them above Birmingham into seventh, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and two adrift of Villa.

Martin O'Neill's men drop down to sixth having scored fewer goals than Manchester City and they are entitled to feel totally deflated by their last-gasp defeat.

The sense of importance surrounding the match was heightened by the knowledge that a win for either side would boost their top-four aspirations.

And there was little to choose between them during a cautious opening period that saw both teams zip the ball around with confidence and work hard for an early breakthrough.

Alberto Aquilani was handed his second start in four days at the heart of Liverpool's 4-4-1-1 formation and the Italian midfielder linked well with Gerrard and Torres.

Gerrard came close to opening the scoring when he collected a Torres pass and curled a dipping first-time strike towards goal, only for a back-tracking Brad Friedel to tip it over the bar.

For all their effort, Villa's desire to prise open the Liverpool defence was undermined by a lack of creativity in midfield.

With Ashley Young suspended, the recently impressive James Milner was deployed on the left of a 4-4-2 system and the Englishman struggled to assert his authority on proceedings.

The hosts had to wait 24 minutes for their first shot on target - Milner drove tamely at Reina - but they were gifted an opening on the half-hour.

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and goalkeeper Pepe Reina
Torres and Gerrard combined to secure Liverpool's victory

Milner hoisted a corner to the back post where a completely unmarked Downing saw a smashed volley expertly saved from point-blank range by the arm of Reina.

At the other end, Liverpool felt they should have been awarded a penalty for a mis-timed tackle by Richard Dunne on Dirk Kuyt, but referee Lee Probert waved away their appeals.

Amid bitterly cold conditions and heavy snowfall, the players deserved credit for the general quality of the first half - but the same could not be said about much of the second.

Despite Liverpool having lost four of their previous six away league games, Villa strikers Agbonlahor and Carew posed little threat to the visitors' back four.

That said, the hosts' midfield became sloppy as the match wore on, starving their front men of service and allowing Liverpool to push forward at every opportunity.

But the Anfield club could not translate their dominance into goalscoring chances and Torres looked particularly off-form.

The game was in desperate need of a goal and the breakthrough might have arrived when Agbonlahor capitalised on Jamie Carragher's slip to race clear, but his low effort was turned behind by Reina.

Moments later, Carew glanced a header just wide of the far post from Milner's corner and Villa had a penalty shout rejected when Emiliano Insua appeared to head the ball on to his arm.

When the fourth official indicated four minutes of injury time it was Villa who seemed most likely to go on and snatch a last-gasp winner.

But the hosts carelessly relinquished possession and after a ricochet put Torres clean though on goal, the 25-year-old made no mistake with a crisp finish into the bottom corner.

Live text and stats

 

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool FT
(HT 0-0)
    • Torres 90+3

    Aston Villa

    Substitutes

    Liverpool

    Substitutes

    Ref: ProbertAtt: 42,788
    ASTON VILLA
    LIVERPOOL

    Possession

    • Aston Villa 49%
    • Liverpool 51%

    Attempts on target

    • Aston Villa 7
    • Liverpool 9

    Attempts off target

    • Aston Villa 4
    • Liverpool 3

    Corners

    • Aston Villa 8
    • Liverpool 10

    Fouls

    • Aston Villa 13
    • Liverpool 11
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+5:36 The referee ends the match.
    • 90:00+5:09 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James Milner by Dirk Kuyt. Indirect free kick taken by James Milner.
    • 90:00+3:56 Substitution (Liverpool) makes a substitution, with Fabio Aurelio coming on for Yossi Benayoun.
    • 90:00+3:56 Short corner worked by Martin Skrtel.
    • 90:00+2:11 GOAL - Fernando TorresAston Villa 0 - 1 Liverpool Goal scored by Fernando Torres from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool.
    • 90:00+1:42 Centre by Marc Albrighton, save by Jose Reina.
    • 90:00+1:12 James Milner delivers the ball, clearance made by Steven Gerrard.
    • 90:00+0:59 A cross is delivered by Gabriel Agbonlahor, clearance made by Jamie Carragher.
    • 90:00+0:35 Corner taken by Marc Albrighton from the right by-line played to the near post, Leiva Lucas manages to make a clearance.
    • 90:00+0:26 Marc Albrighton produces a cross, clearance by Daniel Agger.
    • 90:00+0:03 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Skrtel on James Milner. James Milner takes the indirect free kick.
    • 89:02 Emiliano Insua has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide left of the target.
    • 88:22 Richard Dunne manages to make a clearance.
    • 88:22 Substitution Glen Johnson goes off and Martin Skrtel comes on.
    • 88:22 Steven Gerrard takes the outswinging corner,
    • 87:55 Shot by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 87:03 Effort from the edge of the area by Gabriel Agbonlahor goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 83:38 Glen Johnson delivers the ball, Richard Dunne makes a clearance.
    • 81:45 A cross is delivered by Steven Gerrard.
    • 80:44 Unfair challenge on Fernando Torres by Luke Young results in a free kick. Steven Gerrard takes the free kick.
    • 80:36 Emiliano Insua produces a cross.
    • 80:14 Yossi Benayoun takes a short corner.
    • 79:54 Emiliano Insua takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Marc Albrighton gets a block in.
    • 78:53 Substitution Steve Sidwell replaces Stewart Downing.
    • 77:47 Centre by Emiliano Insua, save made by Brad Friedel.
    • 76:38 Substitution Ryan Babel replaces Alberto Aquilani.
    • 76:38 Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Blocked by Richard Dunne.
    • 75:21 Unfair challenge on Jamie Carragher by John Carew results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Glen Johnson.
    • 73:25 The ball is sent over by Stewart Downing.
    • 72:38 The ball is crossed by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
    • 72:25 The ball is crossed by James Milner, Emiliano Insua makes a clearance.
    • 71:18 Substitution Marc Albrighton comes on in place of Nigel Reo-Coker.
    • Correction - 69:39 James Milner takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Close range headed effort by John Carew misses to the right of the target.
    • 69:39 Corner taken right-footed by James Milner to the near post.
    • 69:18 Gabriel Agbonlahor has a drilled shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 68:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Stiliyan Petrov on Leiva Lucas. Leiva Lucas takes the free kick.
    • 67:55 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Stewart Downing, Jose Reina makes a save.
    • 67:43 James Milner produces a cross, blocked by Emiliano Insua.
    • 66:55 Gabriel Agbonlahor sends in a cross, Glen Johnson manages to make a clearance.
    • 61:34 Carlos Cuellar concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Gerrard. Alberto Aquilani produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.
    • 61:12 John Carew challenges Daniel Agger unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jose Reina restarts play with the free kick.
    • 60:56 The ball is sent over by James Milner, clearance by Daniel Agger.
    • 60:42 Daniel Agger gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor. Gabriel Agbonlahor takes the free kick.
    • 59:25 Foul by Leiva Lucas on Gabriel Agbonlahor, free kick awarded. Stephen Warnock restarts play with the free kick.
    • 59:03 Shot by Glen Johnson. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
    • 58:57 A cross is delivered by Fernando Torres, clearance made by Richard Dunne.
    • 58:03 Unfair challenge on Nigel Reo-Coker by Dirk Kuyt results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stiliyan Petrov.
    • 56:15 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Steven Gerrard.
    • 54:38 Gabriel Agbonlahor gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Leiva Lucas. Daniel Agger restarts play with the free kick.
    • 50:00 The ball is sent over by John Carew.
    • 48:38 Luke Young delivers the ball.
    • 47:44 Corner taken by Stewart Downing played to the near post, Fernando Torres manages to make a clearance.
    • 45:19 John Carew challenges Jamie Carragher unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Jose Reina.
    • 45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+1:26 The half-time whistle blows.
    • 45:00+0:02 Free kick awarded for a foul by Nigel Reo-Coker on Alberto Aquilani. Free kick taken by Fernando Torres.
    • 42:27 Stiliyan Petrov takes the free kick.
    • 42:27 Booking Leiva Lucas receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
    • 42:12 Leiva Lucas concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor.
    • 41:27 The ball is delivered by Luke Young, save made by Jose Reina.
    • 40:29 Jamie Carragher takes the free kick.
    • 40:29 Booking Richard Dunne goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
    • 40:22 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Leiva Lucas by Richard Dunne.
    • 38:51 James Milner crosses the ball, John Carew takes a shot. Save by Jose Reina.
    • 36:58 Unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by Leiva Lucas results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen Warnock.
    • 36:40 A cross is delivered by Glen Johnson, Stephen Warnock makes a clearance.
    • 35:36 Foul by Stewart Downing on Alberto Aquilani, free kick awarded. Alberto Aquilani takes the free kick.
    • 35:14 Centre by Glen Johnson, Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
    • 34:34 Dirk Kuyt fouled by James Milner, the ref awards a free kick. Leiva Lucas takes the direct free kick.
    • 31:29 Effort from the edge of the penalty box by John Carew goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 30:29 James Milner takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Glen Johnson makes a clearance.
    • 29:35 Corner from the left by-line taken by James Milner, Stewart Downing takes a shot. Jose Reina makes a save.
    • 29:04 The assistant referee signals for offside against Fernando Torres. Free kick taken by Richard Dunne.
    • 28:14 Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.
    • 27:17 Corner taken by Steven Gerrard.
    • 27:02 Steven Gerrard takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Stiliyan Petrov manages to make a clearance.
    • Correction - 26:45 Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Carlos Cuellar gets a block in.
    • 26:45 Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Blocked by Carlos Cuellar.
    • 25:46 Free kick awarded for a foul by Luke Young on Yossi Benayoun. Free kick taken by Steven Gerrard.
    • 24:34 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nigel Reo-Coker by Dirk Kuyt. Stiliyan Petrov takes the direct free kick.
    • 23:50 James Milner has an effort at goal from 25 yards. Save by Jose Reina.
    • 17:25 Yossi Benayoun has a drilled shot. Save made by Brad Friedel.
    • 17:17 Centre by Steven Gerrard, Richard Dunne makes a clearance.
    • 16:51 Steven Gerrard takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by James Milner.
    • 16:36 Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
    • 15:25 Steven Gerrard takes the outswinging corner, John Carew manages to make a clearance.
    • 14:40 Nigel Reo-Coker concedes a free kick for a foul on Alberto Aquilani. Steven Gerrard has an effort direct from the free kick, blocked by Nigel Reo-Coker.
    • 13:10 Inswinging corner taken by Stewart Downing, Richard Dunne takes a shot. Save by Jose Reina.
    • 13:00 John Carew sends in a cross, blocked by Daniel Agger.
    • 12:30 Leiva Lucas takes a shot from 25 yards. Blocked by Luke Young.
    • 12:08 Corner from the right by-line taken by Steven Gerrard, clearance by Richard Dunne.
    • 12:00 Centre by Dirk Kuyt, blocked by Richard Dunne.
    • 10:01 A cross is delivered by James Milner, clearance by Jamie Carragher.
    • 7:37 Free kick awarded for a foul by Emiliano Insua on James Milner. Indirect free kick taken by James Milner.
    • 5:59 Unfair challenge on James Milner by Leiva Lucas results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Richard Dunne.
    • 5:46 Emiliano Insua produces a cross, clearance by Luke Young.
    • 5:14 Corner taken by Steven Gerrard from the left by-line played to the near post, Carlos Cuellar makes a clearance.
    • 2:36 Stewart Downing takes a shot. Blocked by Alberto Aquilani.
    • 2:10 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by Emiliano Insua. Stiliyan Petrov takes the free kick.
    • 1:39 Stewart Downing crosses the ball, Dirk Kuyt manages to make a clearance.
    • 1:12 Corner taken by Stewart Downing from the right by-line, Emiliano Insua manages to make a clearance.
    • 1:04 Stiliyan Petrov crosses the ball, Glen Johnson manages to make a clearance.
    • 0:00 The ref blows the whistle to start the match.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League results

    29 Dec 2009 23:59 UK


    Premier League table

    Tuesday, 29 December 2009 21:58 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    Full Premier League table
    1 Chelsea 20 29 45
    2 Man Utd 19 22 40
    3 Arsenal 18 27 38
    4 Tottenham 20 20 37
    5 Man City 19 11 35
    6 Aston Villa 20 11 35
    7 Liverpool 20 12 33
    8 Birmingham 20 2 32
    9 Fulham 19 5 27
    10 Sunderland 20 -3 23
    11 Everton 19 -6 22
    12 Stoke 19 -8 21
    13 Blackburn 20 -15 21
    14 Burnley 20 -18 20
    15 Wigan 18 -18 19
    16 Wolves 20 -19 19
    17 West Ham 20 -9 18
    18 Bolton 18 -10 18
    19 Hull 20 -22 18
    20 Portsmouth 19 -11 14

    see also
    Tuesday football as it happened
    29 Dec 09 |  Football
    Tuesday's Premier League photos
    29 Dec 09 |  Football


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