This was shaping to be a match of two defining mistakes. Martin Laursen's own goal and Jamie Carragher's handball that led to the Gareth Barry's penalty kick. That was still the 87th minute when a Stilian Petrov foul on Steve Gerrard gave Pool a free kick. And Gerrard punished Villa with a perfectly placed shot that squeezed its way over Taylor's outstretched finger tips. It was a bit of magic that will most likely be played throughout this season.
Liverpool has some real hoofers in Gerrard and Riise and with these two you can expect some stratospheric blasts but as the free kick demonstrated, when Stevie Gerrard gets it right, on those occasions, it looks sublime.
It was a testy match with a Bouma Pennant dust up setting things on edge. Liverpool's attack looked the more dangerous with the hustling Kuyt and explosive Fernando Torres. And Kuyt's graft paid off as he chased down a Torres shot that Taylor managed to keep away. His center led to Laursen's reflexive own goal. But then Liverpool disappeared for a lengthy period of time in the second half as Villa exerted more control over the ball. Ashley Young turned in a dazzling performance down the left that had Agger and Carragher second guessing his moves. Villa really looked close to equalizing till Benitez introduced Ryan Babel taking Pennant out who otherwise did very little of note.
Babel created a chance for Gerrard, took a stinging shot that had Taylor just about saving another goal, and brought more fluidity to the attack which looked like it was petering out. I think Rafa will most likely start Babel instead of Pennant as the disparity in talent becomes obvious. Torres was good in patches but if this match is any indication, he does disappear a lot. If memory serves me correctly, this was what happened when he played for Spain in the World Cup. The Liverpool defense had some real problems getting the ball out of danger. They were lucky that John Carew given his strength and height, lacked assertiveness during the times the ball was fed to the box, resulting in few chances.
I think the player in my mind was Villa's Ashley Young. He should be a regular England pick up. And Ryan Babel showed his talent in that cameo appearance.