Aston Villa player ratings vs Liverpool: One 9, one 8 but four 5s in thriller

Aston Villa, inspired by a brace from Jhon Duran, fought back valiantly to draw 3-3 with Liverpool on Monday night, claiming another vital point in the hunt for Champions League football.

Villa Park’s final fixture of the campaign - and Jürgen Klopp’s last-ever Premier League away day - certainly didn’t disappoint and the scoreline could’ve been even crazier. Two truly bizarre, once-in-a-season moments went Liverpool’s way as Emiliano Martinez’s second-minute howler gifted the visitors the lead and Diego Carlos missed an absolute sitter on the verge of half time. There were disallowed goals for both teams, too, summing up a chaotic encounter.

The frantic tone was set early as Villa made a disastrous start, Martinez making a rare blunder by spilling Harvey Elliott’s cross into his own net after just 65 seconds. The delivery deflected off Pau Torres to offset Martinez but the goalkeeper still had to do so much better; a truly awful error as he failed to catch the ball and it ricocheted in off his face.

Proceedings were very open after the shock opener as Mohamed Salah went close to drilling one into the far corner and Leon Bailey left-foot-right-footed a shot wide. It didn’t take long for Villa to equalise as Youri Tielemans thumped home from the edge of the area, assisted by a superb run and pass from Ollie Watkins. Villa Park went ballistic and Emery, as animated as ever, celebrated wildly.

But, before Villa could gain any control, the momentum swung back to the visitors as Cody Gakpo tapped in on the rebound in the 22nd minute. Luis Diaz laid the ball off to Joe Gomez on the overlap and the defender’s shot was saved by Martinez but only as far as Gakpo for the Dutchman to convert.

Villa simply had to make it 2-2 in the 37th minute but Carlos sensationally scuffed the ball wide from merely half a yard out. Bailey did superbly to beat his man and square beyond Alisson but Carlos incredibly directed the ball wide. It was about as close to a full ‘expected goal’ as you’ll ever get.

Before half time there two more huge chances squandered, both by Moussa Diaby. The first saw the Frenchman run through one-on-one with Alisson but he leaned back and fired well over. The second was an excellent take from a John McGinn pass but a fumbled attempt at a back heel. Emery wandered the down the tunnel stunned his team weren’t at least level.

Villa were made to rue their missed opportunities immediately after the interval as Jarell Quansah headed in what will have felt like a sucker punch. The centre-back peeled away from Lucas Digne effortlessly and directed an excellent header in off the upright to convert from Elliott’s deep free-kick.

Watkins thought he’d reduced the deficit in the 52nd minute but the goal was ruled out for offside. Bailey strayed just beyond the last defender before running through and squaring for his striking counterpart. Liverpool then had a goal chalked off too, Salah denied because assister Diaz made his run a moment too early.

The chances kept on coming as Dominik Szoboszlai, sent through by a delicate Salah pass, forced an impressive point-blank stop from Martinez. Trent Alexander-Arnold then tried his luck on the half-volley from range but Villa’s World Cup winner made another excellent save.

Jhon Duran began a late charge for the hosts with a stunning finish in the 85th minute, the Colombian taking one touch before firing a reverse low drive into the bottom right corner. Calum Chambers, on for a rare cameo, anticipated superbly to dispossess Alexis Mac Allister and feed Duran for a deserved assist.

Villa Park went nuts as Duran scored yet again just three minutes later, albeit with a stroke of luck. Diaby darted through the centre and his through ball attempt bizarrely ricocheted off Duran’s leg and over Alisson for 3-3. Diaby then had a glorious chance to win it in added time as he sprinted through one-on-one but his shot was saved.

Here’s how Birmingham World reporter Charlie Haffenden rated the players on what could be a history-defining night.

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