Aston Villa took an early lead against Liverpool, but threw it away quickly in the second half in a disappointing loss on Sunday. Christian Benteke got the Villains on the board early and was close to scoring on multiple other occasions, but poor defending led to two second half goals for the Reds in their 2-1 victory.
Liverpool controlled the match early, but the best chances in the first half were Aston Villa's. Gabriel Agbonlahor nearly put his side up in the 17th minute thanks to a great setup by Matthew Lowton, but put a tame effort right at Pepe Reina. He helped make up for that miss in the 32nd minute, however, assisting on Benteke's opener. On a long ball from Ashley Westwood, he touched the ball to his strike partner, who ripped a first-time shot past Reina to put Villa up 1-0.
Brad Guzan was massive late in the second half, coming up with two big saves to keep his side in front heading into the locker room. He denied Luis Suarez a clear chance in the 41st minute, then made an even better save on Steven Gerrard in the 45th.
Unfortunately for the Villains, the second half didn't go nearly as well. They conceded an equalizer early, less than three minutes into the half. Coutinho provided the setup with a brilliant lofted pass to Jordan Henderson, who caught the Villa defense napping with a run from deep in midfield. Guzan rushed out to meet him, but Henderson played a composed chip over the Villa keeper to make it 1-1.
Nathan Baker gave away the eventual winner, hauling down Luis Suarez in the penalty area in the 59th minute. It was a clear penalty, and Lee Mason pointed to the spot. Gerrard stepped up and converted a beautiful penalty to give Liverpool a lead that they would hang on to, though only just barely.
Gerrard was his team's hero again in the 66th minute, when he cleared a header by Benteke off the line. In stoppage time, Benteke came close to netting Villa's equalizer again, but was correctly flagged for offside after moving too early to get onto the end of a through ball, which he placed into the back of the net. As he turned to celebrate securing what he thought was a massive point, he spotted the linesman's flag and his facial expression turned to one of utter disappointment.