Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 3:0 Aston Villa
It was no happy return to Anfield for Gerard Houllier, his Aston Villa side losing in devastatingly blatant fashion by 3-0.
Liverpool were without their main trio - striker Fernando Torres missing out as his wife has gone into labour, whilst skipper Steven Gerrard and defender Jamie Carragher were out due to injury, Pepe Reina taking over the armband for the night.
Neither goalkeeper was challenged and the honours were even for the first 12 minutes until Liverpool won the first corner of the night.
Martin Skrtel headed the set-piece from the edge of the box on to David Ngog in the centre of the box for the the French striker to jump-head, nearly catapult the ball into the net, scoring a superb goal.
Hardly a couple of minutes later and Ryan Babel made it two. He was lucky as he looked offside when he took the ball and turned around from the right corner of the box and took the right-footed shot well.
Villa defender Stephen Warnock let the striker off and his side down backing away from the Frenchman thinking he was offside and leaving him free to go on and score, Liverpool continued in control and comfortably, in a scrappy game, Aston Villa unable to keep the ball much longer than two seconds, lacking options and width without Ashley Young.
The guests kicked the second half off changed to 4-4-2, booked Ciaran Clark off for Nathan Delfouneso. They did create a couple of chances, but it didn't change the trend of the match.
Not even 10 minutes into the second half, Ngog broke and crossed the ball from the left into the box, a nice pass with the outside of his right foot, to Maxi Rodriguez, who took an easy shot to put the ball into the right corner of the net to make it 3-0 and kill off an already very much subdued match.
Villa enjoyed much more possession in the second half but didn't make much of it, All the passes backwards and forwards coming to nothing, not creating nor posing any threat to Reina.
Liverpool added more pressure late on, threatening to turn the game into an even worse and really bad thrash for Villa, but in the end it stayed 3-0, the Reds bagging 3 goals and points in rather unusual and unfamiliar easy and cool fashion, leaving Roy Hodgson a very happy and relieved man, with his side's form on the mend; Houllier on the other hand, is left the more worried and under pressure.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Kyrgiakos (Kelly 84), Skrtel, Konchesky, Kuyt (Cole 80), Meireles, Lucas, Maxi (scored 55, Aurelio 76), Babel (scored 14), Ngog (scored 16).
Subs not used: Jones, Jovanovic, Poulsen, Shelvey.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Albrighton (Pires 66), Clark (booked 38, Delfouneso HT), Hogg, Downing, Ireland, Agbonlahor (Carew 66). Subs not used: Guzan, Cuellar, Lichaj, Herd.
1st half stats:
On target: 2-1
Free kicks: 9-6
50%-50% after 12min
55%-45% at HT
2nd half stats:
On target: 5-2
Free kicks: 4-5
40%-60% 2nd half up to 62min
50%-50% at FT
Sky Sports Stats:
Passing Success: 79.8%-78.9%
Territorial Advantage: 51.6%-48.4%
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: David Ngog