Aston Villa v Liverpool: Pictures
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Jurgen Klopp admitted that he was not sure what to make of Fabinho’s ‘positive’ reaction after the Brazilian midfielder was forced off with a potentially troublesome injury during the early stages of Liverpool’s win over Aston Villa on Tuesday. Douglas Luiz’s early opener was immediately cancelled out by Joel Matip’s equaliser before Sadio Mane headed home with just 25 minutes remaining to secure a much-needed victory for the Reds, who will be desperately hoping for Manchester City to slip up and give them a lifeline in their bid to achieve Premier League glory between now and the end of the season.
Villa took a quick-fire lead through Luiz, who capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Kostas Tsimikas to poke the ball home from close raneg after just three minutes. Matip went on to reply just moments later when he was gifted a tap-in as Van Dijk’s shot was parried into his path by Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
The visitors struggled to get going over the course of the 90 minutes but were ultimately saved by Mane, who nudged the ball into the back of the net with a fine header during the closing stages of the contest. The match was somewhat marred from Liverpool’s point of view by Fabinho’s early setback, though, with Klopp revealing after the final whistle that he was unsure as to the severity of the problem in spite of the 29-year-old’s initially positive outlook.
“He felt a muscle, not too much,” said the Reds boss. “He’s quite positive but I’m not sure what I can make of that, we will see.”
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It remains to be seen whether Fabinho will be passed fit to play in this weekend’s FA Cup final, with Liverpool set to go head-to-head with Chelsea for the trophy on Saturday evening. The midfielder failed to live up to his own high standards during his brief spell on the pitch against Villa but is undoubtedly one of his side’s most important players and will be sorely missed if he is forced to sit out at Wembley.
“I think he will [be fit for the FA Cup final] but I do not know, we have to have a further assessment,” added Klopp.
The Liverpool boss went on to hail the match-winning impacts made by Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane, who combined during the second half to secure a valuable win for the Reds as the clock ticked down.
“The whole situation was class,” reflected Klopp. “It was top class. Luis crossing in a moment when nobody expected it apart from Sadio.
“We did not have time to train and work on it and I am happy in this moment he pretended to shoot and crossed. It is difficult for the goalie and all of a sudden he puts his head there and it is nice and soft but it was a goal.
“I don’t think it is possible to win easy. They [Villa] are a high-quality side, all the things they did put us under pressure. We have our situation and if you want to win an away game you have to open up spaces.
“They did really well and we needed time to get in the game and before we got in the game it was 1-1. I could not be more proud. It was a massive performance in the middle of May.”
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