Reds held at Villa
By Paul Higham. Last Updated: 04/12/04 4:50pm
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
The Reds took the lead in a first half they totally dominated when Harry Kewell nodded home from close range to end his long goal scoring drought.
Nolberto Solano stunned the visitors with a leveller a minute before half time from a controversial free kick awarded by Mark Halsey.
Rafa Benitez's side were left to rue that decision, and their inability to turn possession and chances into goals and it again looks like the Spanish boss is desperate to get to the January transfer window to strengthen his attacking options.
Neil Mellor started brightly, obviously buoyed after his glorious winner against Arsenal last Sunday, and he tested Thomas Sorensen with a good early shot.
The first half was all Liverpool and Antonion Nunez's cross found Steven Gerrard at the far post, but his knock down could not be converted by Mellor.
The Reds took the lead in the 16th minute when Harry Kewell grabbed his first goal for 34 games when he headed in Jamie Carragher's nod across goal - following Gerrard's free kick.
Mellor had his best chance just before the half hour, when his slightly scuffed effort from a right-wing cross headed for the far corner, only for Sorensen to fly across his goal and palm away at full stretch.
Gerrard then volleyed over the bar when he arrived at the far post from Xabi Alonso's cross, and David O'Leary's were struggling to mount a meaningful attack.
Sorensen had to be on the ball again to repel another Gerrard shot as Liverpool could, and should have had more to shot for their dominance.
However, they were stung just a minute before half time when Solano fired in a free kick that Chris Kirkland should have done better with.
Carragher was fuming with referee Mark Halsey after Gavin McCann went looking for a free kick, and looked to have hung his leg out to get the contact with the Liverpool stopper.
Solano's set piece was well hit but it went in right above Kirkland's head and the England hopeful will feel he should have done better.
Liverpool started the second half as they had done the first, and Gerrard tried his luck from a free kick but Sorensen was there again to save his effort, and the rebound from Steve Finnan.
Gerrard was shooting from all angles but could not find a finish as Benitez's side had most of the ball again, but the lack of firepower available again threatened to scupper their chances of three points.
Solano went close again with another free kick, but Villa forays forward were few and far between as Liverpool searched for a second goal.
Kewell was moved up front when Mellor was replaced by Djimi Traore, and the Australian had a good opportunity when Gerrard's header put him in, but he took too long to line up his right footed effort allowing Mark Delaney to get in a last-ditch block.
Solano had a late chance but blazed wide left footed, but it is Liverpool who will feel the hardest done to after being forced to settle for a point.
The visitors had the better of the chances and the possession but with a lack of cutting edge again proving their downfall.
|Aston Villa||Team Name||Liverpool|
|2||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||6|
|1||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5|
|12||Total Fouls Conceded||10|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||9||16|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||9||10|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||4|