2022-23 English Premier League
  • Ollie Watkins (59')
  • Mohamed Salah (5')
  • Virgil van Dijk (37')
  • Stefan Bajcetic (81')

Mohamed Salah scores as Liverpool beat Aston Villa in Premier League return

Nicol defends Nunez after goalless show vs. Aston Villa (1:19)

Steve Nicol has no doubts that Darwin Nunez will soon start to find the net regularly for Liverpool. (1:19)

Liverpool beat Aston Villa in a 3-1 away victory in the Premier League on Monday as they look to make up for their disappointing start to the season.

Jurgen Klopp's side were just beginning to turn their season around before the World Cup break, but Liverpool got their return off to a solid start away at Villa Park.

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Striker Mohamed Salah tapped in the visitors' opener in the fifth minute after a sublime passing move from marauding wing-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Defender Virgil van Dijk bagged Liverpool's second in the 37th minute with a superb left-footed shot after being set up by Salah, who would have been proud of the finish.

Ollie Watkins put Villa back in the game with a smart 59th minute header across goalkeeper Alisson, before 18-year-old midfielder Bajcetic squeezed in Liverpool's third to secure the win in the 81st minute.

Bajcetic became the second youngest Spanish goalscorer in the Premier League after Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal in 2004.

"It was brilliant for him," Robertson said of his teenage teammate after the match. "He's really stepped up his game and he was brilliant when he came on."

The Scottish defender's pass for Salah's opener took him past Leighton Baines with the most assists of any defender in Premier League history, 54.

"I'm not into individual things. I'm all for the team. But when you do stuff like that and you're in the Premier League against some unbelievable defenders, it's always nice to put yourself at the top," Robertson said.

Scoring opportunities came aplenty for both teams at Villa Park as they peppered each other with balls over the defences who were living dangerously with high lines.

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez was a nuisance throughout, missing a string of chances including a well-saved volley after he plucked the ball from high over his shoulder.

He won man-of-the match for his tireless running and chances created, including a pullback from the byline for Bajcetic's goal.

Liverpool move to 25 points, one behind old rivals Manchester United in fifth but a daunting 12 behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, who were playing later on Monday. Meanwhile, Aston Villa are in 12th on 18 points.

After a poor start to the season, Liverpool are finding form and closing down on the top four and a hoped-for place in next year's Champions League.

"I think we played exceptionally first half. We were really good," Klopp said.

"Stefan was outstanding when he came on. The genes obviously are there," he said, referring to Bajcetic's father who was a Serbian professional player.

Villa were left to rue missed chances, including two scuffed shots from Leon Bailey and a fluffed close-range header from Watkins prior to his goal.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

English Premier League Standings

1 Arsenal 28 +40 69
2 Manchester City 27 +42 61
3 Manchester United 26 +6 50
4 Tottenham Hotspur 28 +12 49
5 Newcastle United 26 +20 47
6 Liverpool 26 +18 42
7 Brighton & Hove Albion 25 +15 42
8 Brentford 27 +9 42
9 Fulham 27 +1 39
10 Chelsea 27 +1 38
11 Aston Villa 27 -4 38
12 Crystal Palace 28 -16 27
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28 -19 27
14 Leeds United 27 -9 26
15 Everton 28 -18 26
16 Nottingham Forest 27 -27 26
17 Leicester City 27 -9 25
18 West Ham United 26 -10 24
19 AFC Bournemouth 27 -29 24
20 Southampton 28 -23 23