Duran sparks dramatic Villa comeback against Liverpool

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Duran sparks dramatic Villa comeback against Liverpool

Jhon Duran came off the bench to score twice and earn Aston Villa a 3-3 draw with Liverpool that all but ensures they will play Champions League football next season.

Emiliano Martinez’s early own goal was the worst possible start for Villa but they equalised through Youri Tielemans only for Cody Gakpo to restore Liverpool’s advantage midway through the first half. Jarell Quansah added a third early in the second.

That came after Diego Carlos produced an extraordinary miss from near the goal-line that would have levelled it, while Ollie Watkins also had one disallowed for offside. But Duran’s spectacular intervention turned the tide late on to salvage a point for Unai Emery’s side.

The comeback means that anything less than victory for Tottenham at home to Manchester City on Tuesday evening would mean Villa are certain of fourth. It was a dramatic if unwanted finale for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in his final away game in charge.

Player ratings

Aston Villa: Martinez (5), Diego Carlos (5), Konsa (6), Torres (6), Digne (5), Diaby (7), Tielemans (7), McGinn (7), Douglas Luiz (6), Bailey (7), Watkins (7).

Subs used: Duran (8), Chambers (6).

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Quansah (7), Van Dijk (6), Gomez (7), Endo (6), Mac Allister (6), Elliott (7), Salah (7), Gakpo (7), Diaz (7).

Subs used: Gravenberch (6), Nunez (6), Szoboszlai (6), Jones (6).

Player of the match: Jhon Duran.

How the drama unfolded

The Aston Villa announcer had introduced Martinez with that now customary tag as the world’s No 1 but it took 62 seconds for Argentina’s World Cup winner to be humbled in front of the Holte End, pushing the ball into his own net to give Liverpool the lead.

Harvey Elliott’s cross deflected off Pau Torres but it should still have been straightforward for the goalkeeper. Instead, he grasped at the ball, missed, allowing it to hit his chest. In panic, he reached out to reclaim it from behind him and pushed it in. A huge error.

Team news

  • Aston Villa brought Youri Tielemans into their team after recovering from a knock – the only change from the defeat in Greece with Matty Cash not in the squad.
  • Jurgen Klopp made one change to the Liverpool side who beat Tottenham with Joe Gomez filling in at left-back with Andy Robertson unavailable.

Mohamed Salah went close soon after but it was brilliant play from Watkins that brought Villa level. He outwitted Quansah in the left channel, pulling the ball back for Tielemans to lash in the equaliser. It was an unusually open start but that continued throughout.

It was underlined when Liverpool retook the lead, Luis Diaz finding Joe Gomes on the overlap and Gakpo tapping in the cross. It was an easy finish but so was the one at the other end that followed but Diego Carlos somehow contrived to miss that chance.

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Watch Diego Carlos put the ball wide before Ollie Watkins can get a touch!

It was one for the ages, an expected-goals value of 0.99. Leon Bailey squared the ball to leave Watkins with the simple task of stroking into the vacant net but the Brazilian arrived at speed to nick it off his toe and inexplicably divert the ball wide of the far post.

Emery could not believe it and he was just as frustrated when Moussa Diaby went clean through just before half-time only to shoot high and wide of the goal. Villa paid for that profligacy immediately after the restart when Quansah put Liverpool two up.

Elliott’s free-kick on the angle was lofted towards the far post and though Lucas Digne lost the defender too easily it was a spectacular climb by the young centre-back, angling his header perfectly to loop the ball beyond Martinez for his first senior goal.

Such was the nature of the contest, it did not feel over. Villa thought they had pulled one back within minutes only for Watkins’ goal to be ruled out because Bailey was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up. Watkins then squandered another opening.

Elliott almost found Liverpool’s fourth only to be denied by the flag and just when Villa’s supporters were beginning to doubt, Alexis Mac Allister’s slack touch presented Duran with the chance to set up a stunning finish. The mood inside Villa Park was transformed.

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Watch Aston Villa equalise to bring them one step closer to the Champions League

The equaliser seemed to owe as much to that momentum as any design by Duran. When Diaby rushed towards goal, his shovelled pass struck the substitute, the ball ricocheting off him to leave Alisson stranded and send the Holte End wild with delight.

Klopp could only smile at the end, serenaded by the away support despite the disappointment. But it was a fitting final home game of the season for Emery’s Villa. They have confounded expectations all campaign. The Champions League now looms.

The match in stats

  • This was just the second time Liverpool have failed to win a Premier League game having led by two or more goals as late as the 84th minute, also drawing 3-3 with Southampton in August 2000.
  • Cody Gakpo’s strike to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead was the 1,196th Premier League goal of 2023-24 (now 1,199) making it the second-highest scoring season in the competition’s history after 1992-93 (1,222).
  • Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez scored his third own goal in the Premier League, the most ever scored by a goalkeeper in the competition’s history.
  • Liverpool have conceded two or more goals in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since 2014.
  • Harvey Elliott assisting Jarell Quansah is the first time two English players aged 21 or younger have combined for a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Steven Gerrard assisted Michael Owen against Blackburn in 2001.

Klopp: It got away from us

“It got away from us tonight, there is no doubt about that,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “We played a really good game. One team was playing for absolutely everything and one team was playing football and wants to win the game.

“I think the character and the attitude the boys showed was outstanding. I would have loved to have won the game – Dom [Szoboszlai] had a chance in the box but when we gave away the 3-2 it was then really, really tricky. Then 3-3 and then they wanted to win.”

Speaking in the press conference afterwards about the emotions of taking charge of Liverpool away from home for the final time, Klopp joked that he was more professional than he thought. “I was completely in the game,” he said.

“But I appreciate so much what these boys and girls are doing. The away fans are always absolutely insane. It was a wonderful relationship, is a wonderful relationship. I always try to show my appreciation. The boys showed that as well with how many they played.”

Villa players share excitement

“There are some of us who have never been close to the Champions League in our life,” John McGinn told Sky Sports. “The manager has a no-excuse mentality. People have written us off and we have floated under the radar. We will have our Man City tops on tomorrow.”

Martinez was more succinct when addressing the supporters from the pitch. “Let’s go to the Champions League, baby,” he yelled. It was a more measured response from Emery, as one might expect. He preferred to focus on the final game against Crystal Palace.

What’s next?

The Premier League’s final day will take place on Sunday May 19 with all games kicking off at 4pm. Aston Villa take on Crystal Palace, while Liverpool host Wolves in Jurgen Klopp’s final game in charge.

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