Roberto Firmino returned from injury to play his final game at Anfield in a Liverpool shirt and made a big impact. The Brazilian striker scored a dramatic equalizer in the 89th minute to salvage a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa that keeps the Reds' slim Champions League hopes hanging by a thread. The match also marked the final Liverpool appearance at Anfield for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, and Naby Keïta.
Luis Diaz earned an early free kick for Liverpool, but it was cleared. Villa responded with a corner in the 7th minute, but they had to play the chance back to goal. The Lions' also garnered a corner in the 13th minute that was cleared.
Aston Villa continued to look dangerous as Ollie Watkins was fouled in the box in the 22nd minute, but he put the resulting penalty kick wide. The visitors got their goal, however, as Jacob Ramsay scored thanks to an assist from Douglas Luis in the 27th minute. Liverpool began to look for the equalizer, but each chance was blocked.
Aston Villa nearly doubled their lead in the 39th minute on a Ramsey shot, but Alisson made an excellent save. Liverpool had a flurry of pressure on the goal late in the half, but they could not get the ball past the backline as Liverpool failed to put a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes of play.
Liverpool had a bright start in the second half as Mohamed Salah put a shot on target in the 51st minute. Alison made a good save on the counter-attack. Liverpool appeared to have found their equalizer in the 55th minute, but after Cody Gakpo sent home a rebound, the goal was stuck off by VAR due to an offside.
Diaz made a long run to put a shot on goal and the Reds kept the pressure on goal the rest of the way Trent Alexander-Arnold put a shot on goal in the 73rd minute but it was cleared off the line. The chances kept coming for Liverpool until Roberto Firmino provided the breakthrough in the 89th minute on a short cross by Salah to tie the match at 1-1.
The Reds had plenty of opportunities to grab a late winner during the 10 minutes of stoppage time, including winning 3 straight corners at one, but the Lions did just enough to keep the ball out of the net as both teams had to settle for a draw.
Champions League Hopes Take A Hit
With Manchester United's win, Liverpool now sit 3 points behind the 4th and final spot for qualification. Liverpool must beat Southhampton in the season finale and hope United lose to Chelsea. If that happens the Reds would qualify on goal difference.
Firmino's Swansong At Anfield
Firmino came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute and he made the most of his final time on the Anfield pitch as a Red. The equalizer was the 81st goal of Firmino's Liverpool career, his 10th of the season, and his 16th as a substitute.
Out Of Touch?
How much of an impact did Jürgen Klopp not being on the touchline have on the game? It's hard to say. He was in constant contact with the staff from the stands, but it would have been nice to see if the boss's added energy on the sideline could have spurred his side to victory.
LFC Globe Verdict
It wasn't a win, but this match was fun to watch. Roberto Firmino's goal was also the perfect Anfielnd sendoff for the fan-favourite. Also, it marks Liverpool's 10th result in a row after what has been a tough season in spots for the club. Reds supporters were treated to an entertaining match for the final time at Anfield for the season. Yes, we would have liked all 3 points, but all in all, it was a good day to be a Liverpool supporter.
Man Of The Match & What's Next
It has to be Roberto Firmino. To score a late equalizer in front of the Kop during your final home match at Anfield is legendary. Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings also deserves tons of credit despite his high boot on Cody Gakpo. Mings was all over the pitch today and has several key clearances that kept the ball out of the back of the net.
Liverpool close out the season on Sunday, May 28th as they travel to face Southhampton who will be relegated to the English Championship next year. Kickoff is set for 16:30 BST.
- Roberto Firmino 87'
- Jacob Ramsay 27'
- Diogo Jota for Curtis Jones 63'
- Kostas Tsimikas for Andy Robertson 72'
- James Milner for Jordan Henderson 72'
- Roberto Firmino for Luiz Diaz 72'
- Harvey Elliott for Fabinho 81'
- Ashley Young for Leon Bailey 53'
- Emiliano Buendia for Alex Moreno 65'
- Leander Dendoncker for Douglas Luiz 87'
- John Duran for Ollie Watkins 87'