Sunday 18 February 2018

Rodgers offers no defence

Liverpool 1
Aston Villa 3

Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers criticised his side's defending for a self-inflicted defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Striker Christian Benteke scored twice either side of Andreas Weimann's well-worked goal before Steven Gerrard struck a late consolation as the hosts' three-match winning run was ended.

Rodgers felt his side should have been awarded a penalty for Ciaran Clark's pull on Daniel Agger's shirt early in the second half with the score at 2-0 but had no excuses for their defensive display.

"We are very disappointed and to be honest I didn't see that coming as our momentum and confidence coming into the game was probably as high as it's been,'' said the Reds boss, whose side dominated before Benteke's 29th-minute opener.

"We probably got punished for our decision-making in that first 20 minutes, we were a bit careless. We could easily have been 3-0 up and if we do that we can control it much better but we didn't have that final pass and bit of quality at the top end of the field.

"Then we went on to concede some poor goals. We weren't quite at it with our intensity and pressure in the game and they were a threat on the counter-attack.

"I thought we were flat. It was important for us to get the first goal – with them playing 3-5-2 – to open up the game but we had those chances early on and didn't take them.

"Once that happens, combined with sloppy play and giving the ball away in poor areas, we contrived to concede bad goals.''

On the penalty incident early in the second half Rodgers added: "I thought when it was 2-0 we should have had a penalty so I'm not sure what we are going to have to do to get one.

"But as soon as the third goal went in we looked deflated and then Villa have no need to come out and go after the game and they just sat. For us it was a bad day at the office.''

It was the first time Villa had scored more than once in any half of league football this season and extended their unbeaten run to five matches with only a second away win in 17 away league games.

Only a fifth Anfield victory in 34 visits also almost doubled their league away goals tally, which now stands at seven.

"I think the whole performance was fabulous, the goals were excellent as was the way we defended,'' said manager Paul Lambert.

"I thought we were excellent. The goals were brilliant: the second goal, with the movement and the backheel, especially.

"The back three were terrific and put their bodies on the line when they had to.''

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