Aston Villa recorded back-to-back wins for only the second time this season after a Stewart Downing wonder-goal saw them beat Liverpool 1-0.Liverpool almost took the lead in the 14th minute, Raul Meireles’ corner falling to Leiva Lucas, whose shot was blocked on the line by Ashley Young.
Villa’s goal came in the 33rd minute when substitute Marc Albrighton’s cross found Downing at the back post and he lashed the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
With little resting on the outcome of the game, results elsewhere raised more of a cheer among Villa fans, especially when news of a Tottenham goal over local rivals Birmingham came through.
Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel, making his 400th Premier League appearance in the game, became the 21st player to reach that milestone, and he had a relatively quiet afternoon against his former club.
When called upon, however, the veteran goalkeeper was at his brilliant best and made a superb reaction save from Meireles after Luis Suarez did well to out-fox two defenders and pull the ball back.
Villa might have gone two up when Ashley Young’s free kick found James Collins – however the defender poked the ball wide.
Meanwhile, Liverpool went close to an equaliser when Fabio Aurelio flashed a left foot free kick just wide.
Villa had further chances to seal the win in the second half when Darren Bent fired straight at Pepe Reina, then set up Gabby Agbonlahor with a low drive across goal which proved just too long for the substitute.
Reina had to be at full stretch to deny Stiliyan Petrov’s low drive, with Villa finishing by far the stronger side.