The Reds struck twice in the space of four first half minutes to see off Alex McLeish’s men and win for the sixth time in their last 11 games to put themselves in with a chance of moving into the Champions League places over Christmas. Kenny Dalglish’s side were rarely troubled by the home side and had the game sown up within the first 15 minutes with Bellamy having a hand in both. The Welshman scored the first before setting up Martin Skrtel for the second to underline his status as one of the seasons transfer bargains. Villa will be disappointed that they didn’t test Pepe Reina on a more regular basis and McLeish will be unhappy with his players after another limp display although. Their cause wasn’t helped after key striking duo Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent picked up injuries and missed the game at Villa Park with Emile Heskey struggling up front against his former club. Dalglish on the other hand will be feeling the polar opposite after his side turned in a confident performance whilst his decision to play young Jonjo Shelvey from the off ultimately paid off.
Having spent most of the season on loan at Blackpool it was surprising to see the 19-year-old thrown straight into the mix by his boss but didn’t disappoint slotting in alongside his more experienced colleagues with ease. He played a key role in the opening goal on 11 minutes flicking Stewart Downing’s corner into the path of Bellamy who made no mistake turning the ball past Brad Guzan to make it 1-0. Four minutes later the lead was doubled with Bellamy turning provider whipping in a corner that was met by Skrtel with a superb glancing header. The Reds continued to dominate in the first forty five minutes but failed to increase their advantage as they pegged Villa back into their own half. Charles N’Zogbia did prove to be the home side’s brightest player and he was the architect of their best chance of the first half firing an effort over on the half hour mark before slamming the ball into the side netting of Reina’s goal minutes later.
However it was the visitors who looked more likely to score with Bellamy proving a nuisance throughout with his cross finding the unmarked Daniel Agger at the back post only for the Dane to head the ball wide. Villa offered little in terms of an attacking threat without Bent and Agbonlahor and were lucky not to concede again with Luis Suarez uncharacteristically squandering two chances. After a relatively quiet first half the Uruguayan sparked into life scampering into a through ball before beating Richard Dunne and James Collins only to see his stinging strike crash back off the cross bar. The wood work would deny him again soon after with the striker’s deft chip from the edge of the area beating Guzan but once again agonisingly clipping the bar for the 17th time this season.