Durán double earns Villa late draw against Liverpool

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  • Post published:May 13, 2024

Jhon Duran scored twice to salvage a thrilling 3-3 draw for Aston Villa against Liverpool at Villa Park in the Premier League on Monday evening.

After goals from Cody Gakpo, Jarrell Quansah, and Emiliano Martinez placed the visitors ahead in Jurgen Klopp’s final away game as manager, Villa seemed headed for their fourth straight loss in all competitions.

However, Duran’s double sided play edged Unai Emery’s team closer to the top table in Europe for the first time since 1983.

Tuesday’s match between title-chasing Manchester City and Spurs would guarantee Villa’s spot in the top four.

However, the stress of having to contend with both a Champions League challenge and a run to the Europa Conference League semifinals is getting to them, and they are faltering at the finish line.

Martinez’s recuperation from missing last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Brighton ought to have given the home team a significant boost.

However, after just two minutes, the Argentine World Cup winner gave Liverpool the lead when he mishandled Harvey Elliott’s deflected cross and put it in his own net.

Villa did react well, as Youri Tielemans equalised after Ollie Watkins outran Quansah in pace and brought back a cross.

But in a match that went to overtime, Gakpo’s goal gave Liverpool the advantage again after Martinez was only able to parry Joe Gomez’s effort.

If the players on the home team hadn’t constantly tried to obstruct each other, the result could have been far more satisfying for the fans.

Diego Carlos nudged Watkins out of the way, then, with the goal gaping, inexplicably turned wide.

Villa has had a run of bad performances in recent weeks, which can be attributed in part to their difficulties defending cross balls.

It was exposed once more as Quansah rose highest to head in Elliott’s free-kick three minutes after the second half began for Liverpool.

If Villa had been more clinical, they may have still mounted a spectacular comeback as Liverpool’s own defensive shortcomings were exposed.

Watkins was deprived of his 20th Premier League goal of the year as Leon Bailey cut across Moussa Diaby’s move and went offside during the build-up.

Following a heated argument between Bailey and Watkins, Watkins was found to have blocked Douglas Luiz’s path when the Brazilian had a clean view of the goal.

If Nicolo Zaniolo had not been injured as a substitute, Duran might not have even been on the pitch.

However, the Colombian delivered a breathtaking finish, capitalising on an error made by Alexis Mac Allister to drive in a shot from the edge of the box.

As Diaby’s pass ricocheted in off Duran’s thigh, the Hollywood actor and Villa fan Tom Hanks was among the 40,000 who did not care. Duran did not know much about his second.

In stoppage time, Diaby was only able to deny a winner with an incredible save from Alisson Becker.

Given that Manchester City and Arsenal’s victories over the weekend mathematically eliminated Klopp’s chances of leaving the Premier League as the winner, a point for Liverpool may signify nothing in their pursuit for the championship.

Even so, it might still matter in the title fight since it preserves Tottenham’s hopes of playing in the Champions League before City’s trip to north London on Tuesday.

On the last day of the season, Sunday, Villa will play the in-form Crystal Palace, and even if Spurs pull off a stunning upset, they still have a chance to finish in the top four.

Even if Tottenham wins their final two games against City and demoted Sheffield United, a draw at Selhurst Park should be sufficient for Villa due to their eight goal advantage in goal differential.

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