Firmino nets on farewell as Liverpool draw with Aston Villa

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  • Post published:May 21, 2023

Roberto Firmino scored a late equaliser against Aston Villa to keep alive Liverpool’s hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Brazilian scored his 110th goal for Liverpool in the final minute of his final home game for the club.

A draw did little to improve Liverpool’s slim chances of catching Newcastle and Manchester United for a top-four finish, as both teams now need just one point from their final two games to qualify for the Champions League.

A draw helps Villa’s chances of qualifying for Europe for the first time since 2010.

The move by Unai Emery to seventh place, one point ahead of Tottenham, and a victory over Brighton in their final game next weekend is sufficient to secure at least Europa League football for next season.

Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League were preserved by a seven-game win streak.

Last season, Jurgen Klopp’s squad came close to an unprecedented quadruple of trophies despite a dreadfully poor performance.

This time, there is unlikely to be even the consolation of a top-four finish for a trophy-less season, which could impact Klopp’s budget for the summer transfer market.

Ollie Watkins missed a first-half penalty kick for Villa, which could have made things worse for the hosts.

The penalty was awarded to the England international after he outran Ibrahima Konate and was brought down by the Frenchman.

Watkins missed a penalty kick for the fifth time in his career out of nine attempts, extending his poor record.

Jacob Ramsey’s composed finish at the far post in the 27th minute redirected Douglas Luiz’s cross into the goal for Villa.

Klopp was serving the first of a two-match touchline ban after questioning Paul Tierney’s integrity following his team’s victory over Tottenham last month.

The German’s presence was missed in a lacklustre performance, but had he been on the sidelines when two crucial calls went against his team, Jurgen Klopp could have been in deeper trouble.

First, Tyrone Mings avoided a red card for a high challenge that left stud marks on Cody Gakpo’s chest during a VAR review.

Gakpo then scored at the hour mark after a scramble in the goalmouth.

John Brooks ruled that Virgil van Dijk’s participation in the buildup from an offside position occurred during the same phase of play, and therefore the goal was disallowed.

Firmino was introduced from the bench with 20 minutes remaining, and his header home of Mohamed Salah’s cross was all that was missing for a fairytale finish.

But Villa held on for over ten minutes of stoppage time, leaving champagne on ice for Newcastle and Manchester United.

On Monday, when they host Leicester, Newcastle will have a chance to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

United have two home games against Chelsea and Fulham to accomplish their goals in Erik ten Hag’s inaugural season as manager.