Trio of mistakes cost Liverpool dear
And to think Liverpool had come to the conclusion that the problem was drawing at Anfield. They were held at home seven times last season, a series of frustrations that served as an explanation why the title eluded them. Yet this was altogether costlier than the stalemates with Stoke, Fulham and West Ham. Given Aston Villa's subdued start to the season, it was equally unexpected.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Brad Friedel - Even at 38, the American remains capable of astonishing displays of shot-stopping. Dirk Kuyt, Glen Johnson and Torres were all provided with evidence of his agility, but the best save of all thwarted Gerrard. Friedel, lying on his back, somehow used his right boot to turn a close-range shot over the bar. LIVERPOOL VERDICT: It is easy to attribute defeat to the loss of Alonso but after an encouraging start, but a fractious Liverpool side did too little for the rest of the first-half. The indefatigable Kuyt, who struck the post, appeared the likeliest man to bring them back into the game. ASTON VILLA VERDICT: O'Neill played four midfielders at Anfield in March and conceded five goals. Selecting a quintet appeared a damage-limitation exercise, but it proved a masterstroke. Reo-Coker, in particular, was outstanding, while Stilian Petrov came in for plenty of praise from his manager.