Sports Desk, Dec 26 (EFE).- Liverpool on Monday extended its Premier League winning streak to three games, downing Aston Villa 3-1 with Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk finding the twine before the break and promising young Spaniard Stefan Bajcetic hitting pay dirt in the 81st minute.
With the road win at Villa Park Stadium in Birmingham, Liverpool is now in sixth place in the table and moves within five points of securing Champions League berths.
Unai Emery’s Villa fought hard throughout the match but had trouble sinking its shots on goal and wasn’t able to muster the needed oomph at crunch time.
Quite early in the action, Villa netminder Robin Olsen collided with teammate Tyrone Mings, resulting in the latter needing some first aid, and the incident seemed to throw the home squad for a bit of a loop.
However, Liverpool took advantage of the home team’s discombobulation, with Trent Alexander-Arnold taking the corner kick and sending a fabulous pass to Andy Robertson, who had gotten the ball into play and then knocked a perfect set-up ball to Salah in the area for the point-blank tally in the 6th minute.
Liverpool continued to press Villa with Darwin Nuñez having a semi-decent shot on goal deflected by Olsen, but in the 38th minute Salah sent a great pass to Van Dijk who powerfully blasted it into the bottom corner of the net for the second goal of the night.
Nuñez had another chance just before the intermission, but Olsen managed to fend off the shot.
After play resumed, Ollie Watkins got one past Alisson and into the net for the hosts in minute 59 on a cross by Douglas Luiz, but Liverpool didn’t cede any more of its advantage and, finally, in the 81st minute, Bajcetic cooly slotted in his first tally for Jurgen Klopp’s squad, taking a cross from Nunez, moving around the goaltender and sending the ball through Mings’ legs for Liverpool’s third goal of the contest.
It was Villa’s first Premier League loss under Emery’s direction.
Aston Villa: Robin Olsen; Ashley Young, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne; John McGinn, Boubacar Kamara (Coutinho, m.86), Douglas Luiz, Leon Bailey (Leander Dendoncker, m.86); Emiliano Buendia (Danny Ings, m.86) and Ollie Watkins.
Liverpool: Alisson, Trent Alexander Arnold (Joe Gomez, m.79), Joel Matip, Virgil Van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson (Stefan Bajcetic, m.79), Fabinho, Thiago (Naby Keita, m.66); Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Harvey Elliot, m.66) Darwin Nuñez (Ben Doak, m.88).