Premier League - Sturridge goal earns Liverpool win at Villa

Premier League, Villa Park - Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 1 (Sturridge 21)

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Premier League - Sturridge goal earns Liverpool win at Villa
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Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the opening goal (PA)

Daniel Sturridge scored his eighth goal in seven Premier League matches as Liverpool completed a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

Brendan Rodgers' side join Chelsea at the top of the table on six points courtesy of Sturridge's moment of brilliance in the first period. The former Chelsea forward accepted José Enrique's pass after a neat little step over by Philippe Coutinho.

There was plenty of work for Sturridge left to do, but he showed marvellous quick control to drift beyond Antonio Luna and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan before flicking the ball high into the net with the outside of his left foot.

Villa had chances in either half, but struggled to break down a rigid Liverpool side operating with two banks of four. When Villa did find a route to goal they were denied by Simon Mignolet, who made fine stops in either half from powerful shots by Christian Benteke.

Sturridge might have had a penalty late in the match when he was challenged by Guzan, but referee Mark Clattenburg decided he had taken ball rather than man first. Paul Lambert's side have three points from three games after a 3-1 win at Arsenal last week was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea and this narrow loss.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) - Fine goal and brings a real menace to Liverpool up front. Luis Suarez was absent again, but Liverpool and Sturridge did not let that dissuade them.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

KEY MOMENTS

PRE-MATCH - SUAREZ REMAINS OUT DUE TO SUSPENSION: Okore and Bacuna come in for Villa, while Liverpool named an unchanged starting line-up. Still no sign of Luis Suarez for the visitors.

21' - LIVERPOOL MOVE AHEAD: Daniel Sturridge scores for the visiting side. Beats Luna and Guzan before sliding the ball into the gaping net with his left foot. Magical goal from Liverpool.

38' - VILLA GO CLOSE: Fine stop by Simon Mignolet as he dives to his left to claw out the shot by Christian Benteke. That was heading into the corner of the net. Liverpool survive.

78' - PENALTY CLAIM FOR VILLA: Seemed to be a late push by Toure on Benteke in the air, but the referee has missed it. Could have been a penalty if the referee had spotted it

84' - MIGNOLET DENIES BENTEKE: Benteke with a volley at the visiting goal, but Mignolet makes the stop. Brilliant save. Kolo Toure also seemed to get a touch.

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TALKING POINT - Can Liverpool maintain their strong start? Bit too early to say with any great certainty that they can challenge for the Champions League places, but there are some positive signs. They can keep the ball for fun, but also need a bit of good fortune to eke out this win.

KEY STATS

Liverpool had not won their opening two Premier League matches of the season since 2008/09 when they beat Sunderland and Middlesbrough. They went on to finish second in the Premier League.

Liverpool win their opening two Premier League matches of a season without conceding for the first time in 11 years and only the second time in Premier League history – they also won 1-0 at today’s opponents Aston Villa and 3-0 home v Southampton in August 2002.

Daniel Sturridge has scored eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances – he also scored in the 2-2 Premier League home draw v Chelsea in April 2013 & in the 1-0 opening day home win v Stoke, August 17th.

Villa have now failed to keep a Premier League clean sheet in 25 successive matches - a club record. They are the sixth team to have set a run of 25 Premier League matches without a clean sheet.

Liverpool extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 matches, their longest unbeaten run under Brendan Rodgers.

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PLAYER RATINGS

Aston Villa: Guzan 7, Lowton 6, Vlaar 7, Okore 7, Luna 5, Bacuna 6, Westwood 6, Agbonlahor 7, Delph 7, Benteke 7, Weimann 6. Subs: El Ahmadi 6, Helenius 6, Tonev 5

Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Johnson 7, Enrique 7, Toure 8, Agger 6, Gerrard 7, Aspas 6, Coutinho 6, Henderson 6, Lucas 6, Sturridge 8. Subs: Cissokho 6, Allen 6

MATCH IN A TWEET

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