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Rickie Lambert of Liverpool celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

Rickie Lambert of Liverpool celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

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Lucas Leiva of Liverpool controls the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

Lucas Leiva of Liverpool controls the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

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Carles Gil de Pareja Vicent of Aston Villa looks to go past Lucas Leiva of Liverpool  during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

Carles Gil de Pareja Vicent of Aston Villa looks to go past Lucas Leiva of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

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Liverpool's Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers arrives ahead of the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

Liverpool's Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers arrives ahead of the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

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Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring his teams second goal against Aston Villa

Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring his teams second goal against Aston Villa

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Rickie Lambert of Liverpool celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

It has been far from the convincing season that Liverpool's high standards expected, but a routine victory at Aston Villa suggests that it is one that could still end in Champions League football.

Fabio Borini's first-half strike and substitute Rickie Lambert's finish with 11 minutes to go gave Brendan Rodgers the victory he would have expected without his side being anywhere near their best.

But it also takes it to eight matches unbeaten and with a Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea to look forward to on Tuesday, their season is still very much alive on several fronts.

Aston Villa supporters in the club's famed Holte End failed to follow their pre-match plan of boycotting the first eight minutes.

However the stand started to empty for the last eight minutes of another frustrating defeat where the subject of relegation will now start to come up. Villa followers had urged supporters to miss the first eight minutes - one for every year of Randy Lerner's ownership - to protest at the state of the club.

To be fair to manager Paul Lambert, his side gave it a go with new signing Carles Gil impressing, but the reality is his side have only scored a paltry 11 goals in 22 league matches this term.

Liverpool won without captain Steven Gerrard, rested with Tuesday in mind, but Rodgers still has his eyes on several prizes, not least a Champions League spot, with a three at the back system doing its job.

"It was fair to say that the opening four months of the season we were nowhere near what we had been so we needed to find a solution," he said. "I had seen enough of the dynamic to see the side had enough going forward.

The challenge is to improve. We're building towards the future and progressing really well. This period now the team is performing at a good level, playing some wonderful football. If we can get through to the end of January, getting to the top four is still an objective. The system is working very well for us."

Villa had Fabian Delph back from suspension and the Villa mood was generally one of support despite the backdrop to the match.

Liverpool showed an obvious threat from the off with Philippe Coutinho shooting wide at the far post from Jordan Henderson's corner. But in contrast to recent weeks Villa at least created chances with Nathan Baker heading over from Ashley Westwood's free kick while Christian Benteke nodded straight at Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool though went onto take a 24th-minute lead as Jordan Henderson's inch-perfect cross from the right was stabbed in by Borini. It was his first goal for the Merseysiders since April 2013 following a loan spell at Sunderland.

Raheem Sterling should have sealed victory before half-time as he attempted to cheekily chip Brad Guzan in a one-on-one situation but the effort did not trouble the American.

Villa could have levelled shortly afterward with Carlos Sanchez's long range effort coming close to catching out Mignolet while Tom Cleverley missed from Ashley Westwood's intelligent pass.

But the introduction of Gil for his debut really sparked Villa into life. It took a magnificent stop by Mignolet to keep out Benteke's powerful effort after Baker had headed on Delph's cross.

However Liverpool went on to wrap this game up as Lambert drilled home from the edge of the area after collecting Sterling's pass and ran towards the visiting fans to celebrate, a decision that resulted in his booking.

Despite another chorus of boos from the Villa Park faithful, Paul Lambert's job is not thought to be under any danger as yet. But losing an FA Cup home tie with Bournemouth and league games with Arsenal and Chelsea could send him closer to the abyss.

Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk