EPL

Aston Villa 3-3 Liverpool: Duran’s dramatic late double edges Villa towards Champions League spot

By Sports Desk May 13, 2024

Jhon Duran's dramatic late double earned Aston Villa a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Villa Park, but the hosts will still have to wait before they can be sure of sealing a top-four Premier League finish.

Duran came off the bench to score in the 85th and 88th minutes to help Villa avoid what had looked set to be a fourth straight defeat in all competitions.

Emiliano Martinez's own goal gifted Liverpool the lead two minutes in on Monday and Cody Gakpo restored that advantage for the visitors after Youri Tielemans had Unai Emery’s side level.

It looked like Jarell Quansah's first goal for the Reds early in the second half had sealed the victory, but Duran’s late intervention ensured Villa emerged from the game with a valuable point.

Villa remain in fourth place, now five points clear of Tottenham, their rivals for a Champions League spot. Spurs have a game in hand but must beat title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday to take the battle to the final day. Liverpool stay third on 79 points.

Emery’s men found themselves behind just 61 seconds into the game with a moment to forget for Martinez as he failed to hold onto Harvey Elliott’s cross, letting it roll over the line.

Despite Liverpool’s bright start, Villa equalised against the run of play – Ollie Watkins pulled it back to Tielemans, who drilled a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

Gakpo restored the Reds’ lead in the 23rd minute, meeting Joe Gomez’s low cross to fire into an empty net, with the on-field decision confirmed after a VAR review for an offside in the build-up.

Diego Carlos should have dragged Villa level again before the break, but with an open net to aim for at close range, he could only guide his shot wide of the far post.

Liverpool started the second half brightly, with Quansah netting his first goal for the club with a towering, unmarked header into the top-left corner before offside decisions denied both sides more goals.

Watkins thought he had scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season when he guided it past Alisson, but it was disallowed following a VAR review as Leon Bailey set off too early in the build-up.

Minutes later, Elliott skipped in front of Mohamed Salah to poke Luis Diaz’s cross past a stranded Martinez, but the flag was up against the Colombian.

Duran’s introduction flipped the momentum back in Villa’s favour, as the substitute scored twice in three minutes to salvage a draw – he drilled the first into the bottom-corner after dispossessing Alexis Mac Allister before perhaps fortuitously flicking Moussa Diaby’s pass over Alisson and into the net.

Home comforts for Villa

Villa knew a win here would confirm fourth spot and Champions League football, and while they did not quite achieve that, this was a small and significant step towards securing it.

Though they were not helped by Martinez's mistake in the second minute, with the goalkeeper scoring the earliest own goal since Antolin Alcaraz (54 seconds) for Everton against Southampton in April 2014, Villa kept fighting to get a result.

The Villans are now unbeaten in their final home game of the season in each of the last five campaigns since their promotion back to the top-flight in 2019, winning three and drawing two. They have Duran to thank for that record extending, and they will now watch Spurs’ match against City with great interest.

Quick starts boost Reds

In Jurgen Klopp's penultimate game in charge of Liverpool, his side showed signs of their free-scoring best once more.

Quansah's header was the 140th goal across all competitions for Liverpool this season - it is their second-highest scoring campaign in the club's history after 2021-22 (147).

They made bright starts to both halves and were rewarded with goals inside the opening three minutes each time to put themselves in control.

However, another defensive lapse at the back, similar to the one they had against Tottenham, ultimately cost them two points. The Reds finish their season at home to Wolves on Sunday.

Related items

  • Czechia ready to step up in Schick's absence, says Hasek Czechia ready to step up in Schick's absence, says Hasek

    Czechia head coach Ivan Hasek insisted he has players ready to replace Patrik Schick in their must-win final group game against Turkiye on Tuesday. 

    Shick, who became his nation's top scorer at the European Championships with his goal against Georgia, limped off shortly after scoring and is a doubt for their final Group F fixture. 

    "Patrik has been with the physios and doctors for the last two days," Hasek said. "He wasn't training. He's getting better, but we will see tomorrow.

    "Schick is a key player, one of the best scorers in Europe. But if he's not able to play, we need to replace him. And we have players who are able to replace him and they are ready and been working hard," added Hasek.

    After claiming a point in their opening two group games, Czechia know they must rectify their current three-game winless run against their opponents on Tuesday to progress to the last-16 of Euro 2024. 

    Turkiye have won their two previous matches against Czechia at the European Championships, with both of these encounters, as per this year’s, coming in the last group game.

    "There is a positive energy in the team," Hasek said of the feeling among his squad ahead of the game at the Volksparkstadion. 

    "Some of the players have not played yet, not got that many opportunities and we want to win for them, mostly so that their chances of getting on the pitch and playing here remains. 

    "I really have great trust in my team, they play as one man and I think we will show that on the pitch."

  • Vinicius calls for patience as Brazil improvements acknowledged Vinicius calls for patience as Brazil improvements acknowledged

    Vinicius Junior acknowledged that he and his team-mates must improve following their goalless draw with Costa Rica in their opening game of the Copa America. 

    The nine-time champions were frustrated by their opponents at the SoFi Stadium, with Los Ticos becoming only the third CONCACAF side to keep a clean sheet against the Selecao Canarinho at the tournament after Mexico (2001 and 2007) and Honduras (2001).

    Brazil registered 19 attempts at Patrick Sequeira's goal, but only three were on target, with Rodrygo (6) and Lucas Paqueta (5) having the majority of those chances. 

    Vinicius failed to make an impact on proceedings in Los Angeles and was replaced by future Real Madrid team-mate Endrick for the final 20 minutes. 

    The 23-year-old has now been substituted in Brazil's last six competitive matches and knows Dorival Junior's side must improve to achieve success at the tournament. 

    "We know we can improve, we have to improve," Vinícius said. "I also know what I can improve, evolve and do for our team."

    Vinicius, who scored 24 goals in 39 appearances for Los Blancos this season, arrived at the tournament with the weight of a nation on his shoulders with all-time leading scorer Neymar, out of the Copa America due to injury. 

    The Real Madrid winger has registered just one assist in his last five appearances for his nation, but has called for patience from the Brazil fans. 

    "New coach, new players, everything takes time," Vinícius said. "Our fans want everything immediately done, but we're going little by little. In the next game, I'm sure we'll play much better because we now already understand what the competition will be like, what the pitch, what the referees will be like.

    "Every time I enter the field for the national team, I have three or four players marking me."

    Brazil face Paraguay in Las Vegas on Saturday before concluding their Group D campaign against Colombia, who beat the Albirroja on Matchday 1. 

  • Positive vibes: Boyz striker Nicholson hoping to overcome bittersweet milestone with victory over Ecuador Positive vibes: Boyz striker Nicholson hoping to overcome bittersweet milestone with victory over Ecuador

    For Shamar Nicholson, Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz 1-0 loss to Mexico in their Copa America opener was a bittersweet occasion, as that encounter marked his 50th international appearance for the country.

    Though Nicholson would have loved to celebrate the significant milestone in victory, but it was not to be. As such, he was left ruing what could have been, as he reflected on his career journey which started at Trench Town High school, blossomed at Boys' Town Football Club, and he is now bearing fruit as one of Jamaica's top-rated strikers.

    Across those 50 games, Nicholson has so far tallied 19 goals and won three medals –silver and the 2017 Caribbean Cup and Concacaf Gold Cup, and an historic bronze at 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League.

    "Yeah, it was special moment," Nicholson declared in a recent interview with Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) media.

    "It's just a pity that we didn't get to win to make it more special, but it was a proud moment for me and my family, my friends, coaching staff, and everyone, who have supported me along the way during bad time and good time. So it was really a proud moment," he added.

    Shamar Nicholson (right) and rising sensation Keheim Dixon.

    Nicholson’s rise to becoming one of Jamaica's key players has been marked by determination and hard work. Though a man of few words, the 27-year-old's achievements on the international stage is a testament to his dedication and talent, as his true personality comes to light when the ball is at his feet.

    Since making his debut in 2017, the towering striker has become a mainstay in the senior Reggae Boyz team, especially giving his scoring prowess and physical presence on the field, which makes him a constant threat to opponents.

    In fact, it is for that reason why Nicholson has made the rounds at clubs in Slovenia, Belgium, Russia and now France. In Slovenia he scored 18 goals for Domzale, and later tallied 30 goals for Belgian outfit Charleroi. He later moved to Spartak Moscow, where he had eight goals and won the Russian Cup, before being loaned out to French Ligue 1 side Clermont, where has four goals to date.

    Each league and club offered a different challenge, but for Nicholson, the experiences were worthwhile contributions to his development.

    "Yes, I will say culture wise (France and Belgium are somewhat similar), but I think it was also a good experience, you know, because the level is high and really physical, and it also challenges you mentally. So I think it was a good experience and I learned a lot," Nicholson shared.

    Despite the defeat to Mexico in keen contest where Michail Antonio had a goal ruled out for offside and the Boyz generally squandered a few good half chances.

    While that result was not in their favour, Nicholson believes there were positives to take from the game, and, as such, he remains optimistic and focused on the challenges ahead, particularly the upcoming clash against Ecuador.

    Shamar Nicholson celebrates with Reggae Boyz teammates.

    He emphasized the importance of staying positive and focused, as the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Boyz hunt an historic first goal and, by extension, point at the prestigious Copa America tournament 

    The Reggae Boyz have shown in previous tournaments that they can bounce back from setbacks, and Nicholson is confident they will do so again. Hallgrimsson’s side is currently at the foot of Group B without a point, a statistic they could very well change with victory over Ecuador on Wednesday at Allegiant Stadium.

    They will then close out the group stage against current leaders Venezuela on Sunday.

    “The vibe is right, you know, everyone is positive despite the loss (against Mexico), and we all have a positive mindset. So, it's just to take things step by step. You know, we prepare in training, so it's just to go there and believe, and I think we're ready for that game,” Nicholson ended.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.