Firmino’s Late Equalizer Not Enough to Secure Liverpool’s Four Biggest Hopes

    Roberto Firmino scored in fabulous fashion in front of the Kop in his last Anfield appearance but his 89th-minute strike only delivered a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, leaving Liverpool’s Champions League hopes hanging by a thread .

    The Brazil international, who left the club after eight years, came off the bench to an emotional reception and responded perfectly by scoring his 110th goal in his 361st and most likely penultimate appearance.

    That he failed to inspire a winner to keep his top four hopes within realistic reach would be a huge disappointment for a player who has been integral to the huge success under Jurgen Klopp.

    But it took the hosts too long to react to Jacob Ramsey’s first-half goal on a disappointing day as a nine-match winning streak came to an end.

    Liverpool have not spent a single day in the top four this season and that is now unlikely, barring aberrations, as United’s win at Bournemouth means they only need one point from two matches as the farewell party in primarily for Firmino and James Milner stalwarts. , but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita failed.

    Despite being disappointed by a late equalizer, Villa’s impressive point lifted them to seventh and above Tottenham, meaning a win over Brighton in their final match next week will earn Unai Emery’s team a place in Europe. .

    Klopp had to watch from the stands as he served out a one-match ban on the touchline and it was probably better for him to be there as his team endured a furious day in so many ways.

    Referee John Brooks, who was the fourth official to celebrate Klopp’s victory over Tottenham that led to his suspension for that game, made a series of decisions that angered home supporters who felt Aston Villa was wasting time.

    Liverpool can claim they made a mistake by not sending off Tyrone Mings for challenging Cody Gakpo to the chest in the first half, who ripped the Liverpool striker’s shirt, although the decision was upheld by VAR.

    They can also complain about Brooks’ interpretation that Ezri Konsa isn’t playing the ball on purpose, meaning that Virgil Van Dijk was offside due to Gakpo’s equalizer early in the second half.

    But in truth, Liverpool lacked ideas in the final third, sending hopeful crosses too often into the hands of Amy Martinez as Villa’s well-organized defense robbed them of space in and around the penalty area.

    Even Trent Alexander-Arnold’s radar seemed to be off as his usually reliable delivery misfired.

    And by the 27th minute, the guests had something to hold on to after Ramsey put them ahead.

    That honor should have gone to Ollie Watkins seven minutes earlier when he rushed over the top of John McGinn to provoke an ill-conceived tackle by Ibrahima Konate, but the striker took the penalty far enough.

    Ramsey was less wasteful as his well-executed volley from a Douglas Louis cross whistled past Alisson, who managed to rob Ramsey of a well-practiced free-kick a few minutes later.

    However, Villa, who managed to upset both his rivals and most of Anfield, looked lucky to end the half with 11 players on the pitch.

    Brooks only booked Mings for the Gakpo challenge, which was confirmed by VAR, who also rejected penalty appeals for Luis’ Jordan Henderson challenge as Liverpool closed the half without a shot on goal.

    Gakpo thought he had equalized after the restart when a rebound from Konate’s shot followed, which was blocked by Mings on the line, but VAR invited Brooks to look at the fieldside monitor and he reversed his original decision.

    The Premier League’s subsequent explanation was that Van Dijk was offside due to Diaz’s header, and Brooks determined that it was a diversion from Konsa rather than a deliberate attempt to play the ball.

    However, Liverpool moved forward without really testing Martinez and even the introduction of Firmino along with fellow retired Milner, Kostas Tsimikas and Diogo Jota did not raise the threat level.

    This continued until the 89th minute, when the Brazil international slid forward with a Salah low cross to end the game in style and cast an insane spell in 10 minutes of stoppage time. However, as with most of their season, they didn’t pull it off.

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