Liverpool made it 17 wins out of 17 at Anfield after goals by Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones handed the champions a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
The defeat pushed Dean Smith’s side deeper into trouble in the English Premier League (EPL).
Following their 4-0 mauling at the hands of Manchester City on Thursday, Juergen Klopp’s side struggled to break down a determined Aston Villa.
Klopp fielded another strong side but with the ground empty and the title already in the bag, there was a lack of edge to Liverpool’s play.
The visitors’ were solid and organised and could even have gone ahead in the 52nd minute when Anwar El Ghazi forced a fine save out of Alisson.
But Mane broke the deadlock in the 71st minute, meeting a low ball from Naby Keita with a firm shot that rattled in off the underside of the crossbar.
Substitute Jones scored the second, a minute from the end, with the 19-year-old hooking home after Mohamed Salah headed an Andy Robertson cross into his path.
The goal was Jones’ first in the Premier League and came a day after he signed a new five-year contract with the club.
”That’s Curtis in a nutshell. He signed a new contract yesterday which is good for him and good for us. We’ll have a lot of fun with him,” said Klopp.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 57 Premier League home games with 47 wins and 10 draws and they have won 24 home games in a row.
Klopp said the blustery conditions at Anfield had impacted the game.
”It was a very difficult game for different reasons. Aston Villa are obviously organised and made it tricky for us.
“The wind made it tricky for both, but it was really hard to play normal football,” said the German.
Aston Villa, who have now lost 20 games, remain deep in relegation trouble, in 18th place on 27 points.
They have yet to win since the resumption of the season, their winless streak going back nine games.
“I don’t want to be a valiant loser, because we are scrapping for points and we are running out of games, but I thought the game plan and the effort was excellent…
“But we never found that quality in the final third,” said Smith.
Cristiano Ronaldo wins The Best FIFA Special Award
Cristiano Ronaldo has been honoured by FIFA for becoming the all-time leading goalscorer at the international level.
The Manchester United star has now scored 115 goals for Portugal, breaking Ali Daei’s previous record of 109.
Ronaldo received a special in-person award and was also named in the FIFPRO Men’s World11 for 2021, at what was largely a virtual ceremony for FIFA’s The Best ceremony in Zurich on Monday.
“It’s a dream. First of all, I have to say thank you to my teammates, especially in the national team during the last 20 years that I used to play with. I never thought of beating that record,” Ronaldo said.
“I have to say thank you to my family, my wife, my kids – soon I will be a father again! I’m really proud, it’s a great achievement to be the top scorer of all time.”
Asked how he is maintaining his fine goalscoring form at the age of 36,he insisted that he is as motivated as ever to even score goals and win trophies.
“It’s a passion, I still have a passion for the game, not just to score goals but to entertain myself,” Ronaldo added. “I’ve played football since I was five or six years old so when I get to the pitch even in training I still enjoy it and my motivation’s still good.
“I’m 37 soon, I feel good and motivated. I keep working hard since I was 18 and I continue. I have that passion and want to continue.
“People ask sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play more than four or five years. It’s all about mentally, because physically if you treat your body good, it’ll treat you back.”
AFCON: Okocha names most important player in Super Eagles
Former Nigeria captain, Austin Okocha has singled out Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, for special praise.
Akpeyi is currently part of the Super Eagles’ squad at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 35-year-old who has made 19 international appearances, is behind Francis Uzoho and Maduka Okoye in the pecking order after his recent injury concerns.
However, Okocha believes Akpeyi has an important role to play in the team.
“Daniel is a very important player for the squad. He only lost his place through injury. This shows how strong the whole squad is, because once you miss out because of injury, it’s always difficult to get back for a goalkeeper.
“We believe we have a great squad and we have people like Daniel we can rely on if needed.
“I am happy that we have a happy competition in our goalkeeping department and it is a plus for any coach,” Okocha said in an interview with Amakhosi’s media team.
AFCON: Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, reacts to loss to Super Eagles
Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, has said his team’s poor performance in the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations encounter with Nigeria caused Pharaohs’ loss.
He said this during a post-match interview.
According to him, Pharaohs were no where to be found on the pitch in the first half.
He said, “The performance in the first half was very poor and this is the truth, we were not on the field. We started playing in the second half and there was no reason for this failure and loss against Nigeria.
“We lost this match but there are 6 points we must get against Sudan and Guinea Bissau to qualify.”
A sweet 34th minute belter, intelligently struck by Kelechi Iheanacho and off a brilliant headed pass by Taiwo Awoniyi, earned Nigeria a first-ever opening match win over Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations as Cameroon’s northern town of Garoua dazzled in green and white on Tuesday night.
Former U-17 World Cup winner Iheanacho ran hard at the North Africans’ defence a number of times in a pulsating first half clearly dominated by the three-time African champions at the Stade Roumdé Adjia. But it was the dimunitive winger Moses Simon, who plays his club football in France, that threw the Egyptians’ rear into jeopardy several times with his dancing, taunting and inexhaustible bag of tricks, and it was his penetrating pull-out from the left that resulted in the game’s only goal.
The Eagles played with gusto, zest, immense confidence and go-go spirit – not seen for such a long time, and with Olaoluwa Aina and Zaidu Sanusi firm at both wing backs, Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong surefooted in the central defence, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo disciplined and focused in the middle, the Pharaohs were literally at sea.
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