Shay Given

Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa grinded out an unexpected 0-1 win over Liverpool thanks to an early goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonlahor, who this week signed a four-year contract extension at Villa Park, put his boyhood club 0-1 up after just nine minutes when he bundled in a corner thanks to some poor Liverpool defending.

Said defence was under pressure again soon after but this time Phillipe Senderos headed over from Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.

Liverpool throughout tried and failed to break down a resolute and organised Villa side.

Mario Balotelli, who many quoted as a “bargain” at £16 million was ineffective against Senderos and Nathan Baker on his home debut in a Liverpool shirt and was replaced by Rickie Lambert with 20 minutes to go.

The controversial Italian had just one chance of note, a deflected effort in first half injury time that went wide.

Balotelli also had headed chances at corners but did not gain sufficient contact on either of them.

Liverpool’s closest effort came nine minutes before the end when Phillipe Coutinho hit the post from the outside of the area. From the rebound Raheem Sterling’s shot was blocked by his own player Jordan Henderson which summed up their day.

Brendan Rodgers’ side again showed that while plan A of patient but potent passing play can be deadly as well as easy on the eye, the side lacks a different option when teams set up to defend and hit them through a counter attack or, like this case,  a set piece.

Aston Villa however were impressive in the way they set themselves up and continued their recent good form at Anfield, they have not lost there in their last four outings now.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Lallana (Sterling ’61), Markovic (Borini ’71), Balotelli (Lambert ’71)

Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Lucas, Toure,

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley (Sanchez ’86), Richardson, Agbonlahor (Bent ’90), Weimann (N’Zogbia ’72)

Subs not used: Given, Okore, Bacuna, Grealish

Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland

Martin O’Neill’s first competitive game as Republic of Ireland manager ended in a 1-2 win over a spirited Georgia side. 

Aiden McGeady won the game for the Irish, hitting a brace, one in either half, his second coming in second half added time.

He gave the Irish the lead 24 minutes into the match but a stunning goal by Tornike Okriashvili 14 minutes later pegged them back.

Okriashvili, who plays his club football for Racing Genk in Belgium, hit a long range dipping shot past a despairing David Forde and for a while looked to ensure that the hosts would not finish their opening game empty handed.

It was not the case though as McGeady back with an impressive winner in the 90th minute – a clever turn of feet on the edge of the area and then accurately scoring with his left foot.

Ireland’s first came somewhat against the run of play, Jon Walters’ header from Forde’s goal kick set up James McCarthy who exploited a gap in the Georgian defence to tee up his Everton colleague.

McGeady then had the relatively simple task of finishing past Giorgi Loria in the Georgia goal.

AMG

Georgia: Loria (Kvaskhvadze ’45), Lobzhanidze, S Kverkvelia, Kashia, Khubutia, Kankava, Daushvili, Gelashvili, Ananidze (Targamadze ’63), Okriashvili (Mchedlidze ’88), D Kverkvelia

Subs not used: Migineishvili, Grigalava, Ebralidze, Khmaladze,  Kobakhidze, Kazaishvili, Dzarla, Rekhviashvili

Republic of Ireland: Forde, Coleman, O’Shea, Wilson, Ward, Walters, McCarthy (Meyler ’90), Whelan, Quinn (Brady ’76), McGeady, Keane (Long ’76)

Subs not used: Given, Elliot, Keogh, Pilkington, Pearce, Gibson, Hoolahan, Murphy, Doyle

Man of the match: Aiden McGeady