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Gerrard’s off day

Aston Villa have managed to reinvent themselves for the new season, whereas Liverpool plainly have not. This unexpected and deserved win will do wonders for the confidence of John Gregory’s players, and have just the opposite effect in the Anfield dressing room. Liverpool have lost their last two matches and are fading from title contention already, largely through the sort of defensive lapses Gérard Houllier hoped he had cured, and their misery was compounded when England’s goalscorer and new star Steven Gerrard was dismissed in the second half.

Souvenir T-shirts bearing the legend Germany 1 Liverpool 5 were on sale outside the ground, yet despite the presence of half Bergdorf Goodman Authentic Prada Handbags Uk Prada Mens Shoes a dozen of the Olympic Stadium cast, there was never any suggestion of the same atmosphere inside. Unless Authentic Prada Vitello Daino you happened to be among the Aston Villa supporters, that is. They watched in disbelief as their team of former internationals and non-internationals dismantled Liverpool’s household names in the first half.

There was a big cheer from the Kop for new goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and an almighty Authentic Prada Leather Handbags boo for Peter Schmeichel’s first touch of the ball. Predictably the biggest cheer of all was for the hero of Munich, even though Michael Owen made only the bench. Robbie Fowler made a rare appearance leading the line with Emile Heskey, but it was Gerrard, making a third appearance in eight days, who first threatened Schmeichel’s goal with a rising shot from the edge of the area.

Villa decided on an English front pairing too, John Gregory opting for Dion Dublin and Darius Vassell ahead of Bosko Balaban, who was on the bench, and Juan Pablo Angel, who was nowhere to be seen. Vassell put a reasonable chance into the Kop after 20 minutes, but otherwise Villa had little to show for their mastery of a hesitant Liverpool midfield until Paul Merson tested Dudek on the half-hour. The £4.5m arrival from Feyenoord saved comfortably to an audible sigh of relief. Houllier has been boasting of his ruthlessness in dropping Sander Westerveld right out of the squad after his howler at Bolton, but in doing so he put his new goalkeeper under considerable pressure. Best Prada Outlet In Florence

Recalling Westerveld’s dread of crosses, the crowd held their breath again when Villa were awarded a free-kick a minute later, after Nick Barmby had been harshly booked for catching Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shop Online Mark Delaney in a 50-50 challenge. Merson floated over a wicked one, Liverpool’s central defenders failed to deal with it, and Dublin’s reliable forehead did the rest.

Liverpool were back on level terms almost as soon as the second half was under way. This time it was Villa’s turn to dither under a cross, and though Gerrard’s header from Gary McAllister’s corner was nowhere near as powerful or accurate as Dublin’s had been, Schmeichel was hampered by his own static defenders in his efforts to reach it.

Undeterred, Villa kept their shape, kept up their aggression and took the lead again. John Arne Riise was guilty of ball-watching when he failed to cut out a pass to Dublin, and though the striker was able only to manage an air-shot when he chested the ball down, Lee Hendrie followed up to beat Dudek with the Authentic Prada Bags Uk real thing.

Schmeichel’s goal inevitably came under siege Black Leather Prada Milano Purse but Villa’s refusal to abandon all attacking aspirations was admirable. Had Moustapha Hadji been on the field for more than a few seconds, he might easily have scored a third goal in the 71st minute instead of blazing over the bar. Liverpool’s best hope of replying seemed to lie with McAllister, who brought a fingertip save from Schmeichel with a free-kick.

Gerrard’s departure for an ugly, studs-up attack on George Boateng’s standing leg made Villa’s task easier, but no one was expecting Vassell to loop the ball cheekily over a stranded Dudek for a third goal four minutes from time. The Anfield faithful began streaming for the exits, which for the first time brought an authentic Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Book Bags flavour of Munich. That, and the Villa fans chorusing: ‘You’re not very good.’

Liverpool: Dudek, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise (Vignal 60), Carragher, McAllister, Barmby Bicester Village Prada Bag Price (Owen 60), Hamann, Gerrard, Heskey, Fowler. Subs not used: Owen replica prada hobo bags, Murphy, Biscan, Arphexad.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Wright, Mellberg, Alpay, Boateng, Hendrie (Staunton 89), Merson, Kachloul (Hadji 70), Vassell, Dublin. Subs not used: Enckelman, Ginola, Balaban.

Referee: A D’Urso (Billericay)