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Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge rescued a point for Liverpool as they came from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 with Aston Villa at Anfield.
Paul Lambert's side had taken the lead as Andreas Weimann scored his third goal of the season after excellent work from Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was on hand in the 36th minute to create Villa's second. His cross evaded Simon Mignolet to allow Christian Benteke to head into an open net from six yards out. However, Sturridge latched on to a Jordan Henderson flick to halve the deficit with his 11th Barclays Premier League goal of the season and Gerrard levelled the scores from the penalty spot seven minutes after the interval. Despite failing to win, a point for Villa moves them up to 10th place in the Barclays Premier League while Liverpool remain fourth.
Sturridge was fit to start his first game since November after recovering from an ankle injury, while the visitors gave a debut to loan signing Ryan Bertrand and recalled Weimann to the starting line-up.
Villa started brightly and passed up chances by Agbonlahor, Ashley Westwood and Ciaran Clark to break the deadlock, but when Weimann was presented with his opportunity he made no mistake. Agbonlahor was released behind the Liverpool defence on the left and delivered a low cross into the six-yard box where Weimann, who had nipped in front of Gerrard, turned the ball home from close range.
Villa doubled their lead nine minutes later as Benteke made it two goals in as many matches, the striker having the simple task of heading into an empty goal after Mignolet had misjudged Agbonlahor's cross from the right.
Sturridge halved the deficit in the closing seconds of the half, the striker latching on to a neat flick from Jordan Henderson before firing beyond Brad Guzan to give the hosts hope. With the extra momentum Liverpool levelled soon after the half-time break as Luis Suarez was brought down by Guzan inside the penalty area, referee Jon Moss pointing to the spot.
Gerrard assumed the responsibility and made no mistake for his fifth Barclays Premier League goal of the season, and his 12th against Villa – more than he has put past any other side. Fabian Delph went close to putting Villa back ahead on the hour with a curling effort from 20 yards, while Henderson brought a fantastic save from Guzan five minutes later from the edge of the penalty area.
Suarez went agonisingly close to sealing all three points for Liverpool in the 77th minute, but his free-kick was inches wide of Guzan's right post. The Uruguayan was central to Liverpool's late efforts to snatch a win but they ultimately had to settle for a draw, which leaves them trailing league leaders Arsenal by nine points.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "It was a good point. I don't think we were anywhere near our level in the first half and that's credit to Aston Villa. We weren't great, but we showed great character to come back.
"I just felt we couldn't get any flow in the game, but [with our] first chance to make some passes we scored a wonderful goal [from Sturridge], that gave us a lifeline. In the second half had better momentum, you can't win every game, we were 2-0 down against a good side and end up getting a point in the end."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “It was top-drawer. We were outstanding. We should have been out of sight after that first half. It could have been at least three. But the way we played the game was fantastic.
"There were some big, big performances. Christian Benteke was back to his old self - he was outstanding. Ryan Bertrand was absolutely fantastic and Ron Vlaar looked tremendous.
"We looked a real threat all game. I was really happy with that. But it's been promising in the league since the turn of the year. We won at Sunderland. We looked excellent in the second half against Arsenal and today we were fantastic."
|28 Jan 2014||v Everton (H)|
|02 Feb 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|08 Feb 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|12 Feb 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|23 Feb 2014||v Swansea (H)|
|01 Mar 2014||v Southampton (A)|