Dramatic night at Villa Park pushes Aston Villa towards Champions League

Aston Villa staged a dramatic late comeback to draw 3-3 at home to Liverpool.
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Aston Villa's hopes of clinching fourth spot in the Premier League were boosted last night as a late Jhon Duran double helped the team come from 3-1 down to draw with third place Liverpool. Despite Villa creating a plethora of chances throughout the game, it seemed to have gotten away from them when Jarell Quansah headed home just after half time.

The fans were given a major boost of confidence before kick off with the announcement that Youri Teielemans was to return to the starting line up following a spell on the sideline with a groin injury. Tielemans has been hugely infuencial in the second half of the season and seeing him return was a much needed boost.

The atmosphere outside the ground prior to kick off was fantastic as once again fans were encouraged to welcome the teams arrival. This noise continued inside the ground as kick-off approached.

However, that positive feeling quickly evaporated as Liverpool took the lead through an Emi Martinez own goal with less than a minute on the clock. A rare error from the World Cup winning goalkeeper meant Villa would have to fight hard to come back right from the get go.

Emiliano Martinez
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Villa responded quickly however, after Ollie Watkins' superb run and cut back from the left hand side landed at the feet of the returning Tielemans on the edge of the box and the midfielder blasted the ball into the bottom corner to level the score. Watkins now see's his personal tally of assists reach 13 this season, three more than any other player.

Youri Tielemans, Douglas Luiz
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Following a good attacking spell for Villa it was the visitors who regained the lead midway through the first half as Joe Gomez managed to stay onside to shoot at goal. His shot was palmed away by Martinez directly into Cody Gakpo's path who tapped into the empty net.

Villa continued to create openings and unfortunately were not clincial enough to draw back level in the first half. Diego Carlos managed to miss an open goal (miss of the season contender!) from Leon Bailey's cross from all of three yards, which really summed up the first half for the Villans.

Poor defending from a set piece at the start of the second half saw Liverpool extend their lead and meant that Villa's back were well and truly against the wall. However, the team continued to push and thought they had pulled a goal back through an Ollie Watkins close range finish. Leon Bailey was unfortunately offside in the build up.

The game really changed with the introduction of Calum Chambers and Duran in the second half. Nicolo Zaniolo made a brief appearance off the bench and missed a glorious chance before hobbling off injured. Chambers, who has been a ghostly figure for Villa this season, provided a sense of urgency in midfield and it was him that dispossessed Alexis Mac Allister high up the pitch in the build-up to Duran's first goal. His pass fell to Duran on the edge of the box who hit the ball with his left foot into the near corner. The belief around the ground grew once more.

Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Villa's comeback was complete in very fortunate circumstances just three minutes later. Moussa Diaby, who had performed positively on the night despite wasting a number of chances, turned Mac Allister nicely on the half way line and drove up the pitch before firing a pass into the thigh of Duran.

The ball ricocheted off his upper leg and looped over Alisson into the corner of the net. A huge, but well deserved, slice of luck. Duran's Villa Park future seems uncertain following links with Chelsea this season but this performance will certainly encourage Emery to consider his forward options.

Jhon Duran
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Villa Park was rocking and the team were thriving off of this energy. This swing in momentum looked to potentially win the game for Villa when Diaby ran through and rifled a shot that was destined for the roof of the net. Alisson however produced an incredible save to prevent one of Premier League's all-time greatest comebacks.

The match eventually finished three goals apiece and Villa's lead over Tottenham extended to five points. There was a fantastic feel around the stadium at the final whistle and the team conducted their lap of honour to thank and feel the appreciation from the fans. Villa finished the season with a record of twelves wins, four draws and just three losses at home.

A memorable year for the Villa Park faithful. The confidence amongst the manager and the players during the lap of honour was obvious and was summed up with this comment from Emi Martinez:

"Let’s go to the Champions League babyyyyy!"

Emi Martinez
Unai Emery
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

All eyes will now be on Tottenham as they host title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday night knowing that only a win will keep them in the fight for top four. With Manchester City looking formidable, having not lost since they visited Villa Park in December, it is impossible for Villa fans to not be dreaming of that Champions League position.

Jack Grealish
Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

A late Jack Grealish winner at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would certainly be the icing on the cake for most!