Liverpool 5-0 VILLA
Steven Gerrard struck a hat-trick as Martin O'Neill's men ran into a red-hot Liverpool side fired up by a revitalised title challenge.
The visitors had no answer to the Reds' goal power, which has claimed the scalps of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past fortnight.
Liverpool started like an express train and were ahead on eight minutes when Xabi Alonso flicked Gerrard's free-kick onto the bar and the rebound fell kindly for Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman made no mistake in thumping home his follow-up from close range.
However, after soaking up more Liverpool pressure Villa came back into the contest, only for Pepe Reina to foil John Carew twice.
The Spanish goalkeeper scrambled across his line to brilliantly tip away Carew's volley which seemed destined for the top corner. Minutes later Reina was at full stretch to palm the striker's bullet header clear.
Having been excellent in keeping Villa out, Reina turned provider for Albert Riera, who smashed in the keeper's long clearance to double Liverpool's lead.
But the Liverpool skipper wasn't done there. With five minutes gone in the second-half he drove in a low free-kick after Carlos Cuellar's foul just outside the box.
Villa's misery was compounded when referee Martin Atkinson showed Friedel the red card for bringing down Fernando Torres in the area. Gerrard stepped up again and fired past substitute goalkeeper Brad Guzan to complete his hat-trick.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard BOOKED, Riera, Kuyt, Torres. Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger (for Arbeloa, 76), Ngog (for Gerrard, 80), El Zhar, Dossena, Lucas (for Alonso, 66).
VILLA: Friedel SENT OFF; Young BOOKED, Davies, Cuellar, Reo-Coker; Petrov, A Young, Barry BOOKED, Milner; Heskey, Carew. Subs: Agbonlahor (for Heskey, 58), Guzan (for Reo-Coker, 65), Delfouneso, Knight, Salifou, Shorey, Gardner (for Carew, 89).
Go to full match coverage for Liverpool 5 - 0 Aston Villa (22nd March 2009) >
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