Premier League Roundup, Dec. 29
Fernando Torres’ 50th English Premier League goal in stoppage time
clinched Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at Aston Villa and moved his side
to within four points of Champions League berths on Tuesday.
Making his 72nd league appearance, Torres capitalized on a
loose pass from former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock before
drilling a low shot across Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
“We needed to win to be close to the top four. It was a
massive game for us,” Torres said. “Last season we kept working
until the end and got points in extra time, like today.”
The goal ensured the Spain international became the fastest
player in Liverpool history to score a half century of league
“When you have guys like this in the team you know you can
always snatch it,” captain Steven Gerrard said, pointing to Torres.
“Everyone knows that when Fernando’s on form he’s the best in the
world and we want him to score many more goals like that to get us
into the top four.
“It’s important to build on this and I am sure we will gain a
lot of confidence from this, and there are no excuses now.”
Liverpool moved up to seventh, two points behind sixth-place
Villa and City, and a further two adrift of Tottenham, which was in
the fourth Champions League spot.
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina had earlier produced two
crucial saves to deny Villa, which was searching for its first home
win over the Reds for nearly 12 years.
Reina kept out a close-range volley from Stewart Downing in
the first half and denied Villa’s top scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor
after he had broken clear midway through the second period.
Liverpool controlled the match at a snowy Villa Park, but
struggled to find a way past Friedel. The American goalkeeper
turned over Gerrard’s curling short from the edge of the area early
Liverpool had a penalty appeal turned down after a challenge
by Villa central defender Richard Dunne on Dirk Kuyt.
In Tuesday’s other match, Bolton threw away a two-goal lead
against Hull and a chance to moved out of the relegation zone as it
was held to 2-2 at home.
Bolton led at halftime through Ivan Klasnic’s shot from the
edge of the penalty area, and the home side looked comfortable
after Kevin Davies headed in another in the 61st.
But Hunt nodded home from Craig Fagan’s cross in the 71st and
a deflected shot leveled the score seven minutes later.
Bolton and Hull both moved four points ahead of bottom-place
Portsmouth, but remain in the bottom three.