Liverpool vs. Aston Villa score, result, highlights as Firmino nets late equaliser on Anfield farewell
ANFIELD, LIVERPOOL — Roberto Firmino marked his Anfield farewell with a late equaliser to earn Liverpool a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa that keeps their Champions League hopes alive.
The Reds' bid for the top four looked to be over as they trailed to a Jacob Ramsey goal heading into the final moments of a contest that had also seen the impressive visitors miss a penalty through Ollie Watkins.
But there was a late, emotional twist in the tale, Firmino coming off the bench on his final home appearance for the club after eight years to net a vital goal.
Liverpool still need two defeats for either Manchester United or Newcastle United as well as a win of their own against Southampton to stand any chance of making Europe's premier cup competition, but they still at least have hope after avoiding defeat.
Villa, meanwhile, missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham into sixth place as a result of a late concession that puts a dent in their Europa League bid.
MORE: Updated Premier League table and the top-four chase
He was always going to score, wasn't he?
As a player whose Liverpool career has featured so many iconic moments, Roberto Firmino wasn't going to let this final Anfield appearance slip by without a goal.
And it was even more fitting that it come thanks to an assist from Mohamed Salah, a player with whom he once formed the most feared attack in European football.
Of course, when the thrill of this perfect ending subsides, Liverpool must face up to the unenviable task of replacing a man whose influence cannot be overstated.
As today's emotional send-off tells you, supporters have every reason to believe that might well be impossible.
Jurgen Klopp stated in his press conference previewing this match that his transfer plans had not been changed by a recent uptick that had seen Liverpool win seven on the bounce.
And the events of this draw showed that, even accounting for their recent improvement, the Reds still have some areas to work on.
Klopp will not have failed to notice Aston Villa's superiority in midfield, where they seemed to consistently have the energy to sweep up every second ball and pen their hosts in.
Changes in that area are in the pipeline and they remain a must if Klopp's team are to get back to where they once were.
Mohamed Salah's omission from the shortlist for Premier League Player of the Season this week will not have come as a shock to those who have followed this poor Liverpool season from afar.
But the fact is the Egyptian can feel hard done by given some of the other names featured in his place, and proved exactly why here.
He may not have got on the scoresheet, but in setting up Firmino Salah registered his 11th assist of the Premier League season to go with the 19 goals he has also netted.
That also made it 17 goal contributions in his last 14 appearances in this competition - a return that means he should not shoulder any blame for a likely failure to reach the Champions League this term.
FULL-TIME: All over at Anfield and Firmino has nicked a point that keeps Liverpool in the Champions League race, but only just about.
99th min: Liverpool have a free-kick just inside the Villa half. Their last chance surely... and it's a poor delivery from Alexander-Arnold straight into Martinez's hands.
90th min: Ten minutes to be added on here and Anfield is absolutely rocking. They couldn't, could they?
89th min: GOAL! Would you believe it, Roberto Firmino has his farewell goal!
It comes from a beauty of an outside-of-the-boot Salah ball from the right, that Firmino meets in the centre of the park and dispatches with customary ease. What a moment.
86th min: Villa now making changes of their own, with Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz heading off to be replaced by Leander Dendoncker and Jhon Duran.
Watkins has been impressive again for the visitors here.
81st min: Elliott on for Fabinho as Liverpool really go for it now. Can they find an equaliser?
77th min: Emi Martinez goes in the book for timewasting but he won't mind one bit after taking a huge chunk out of the game this half.
73rd min: Here they come. Departing pair James Milner and Roberto Firmino enter the fray to huge cheers, and they are joined by Kostas Tsimikas as Liverpool make a triple change that sees Henderson, Diaz and Robertson leave the field.
65th min: Moreno can't continue, Buendia will replace him.
63rd min: A change for Liverpool, with Curtis Jones making way and Diogo Jota entering the fray.
Meanwhile, Villa substitue Alex Moreno may well be heading off again having apparently pulled something while rather brilliantly preventing Van Dijk from getting a cross in moments ago.
55th min: Gakpo has the ball in the back of the net but it's not going to count.
The Dutchman had finished after a goalmouth scramble but a lengthy VAR check that requires John Brooks to go to the screen follows and a decision of offside is ultimately given.
It's not actually clear here in the press box, or indeed to any of the supporters, what exactly that was given for.
53rd min: Two changes for Villa, Young and Moreno replacing Bailey and Digne.
Fresh legs for the visitors, though they haven't been particularly stretched at any point of this contest this far.
52nd min: McGinn lines one up from the edge of the box after good work from Watkins but Alisson gets down to save quite comfortably.
51st min: Mohamed Salah works half a yard to get a shot away in the box but it's a tame one by his standards and Emi Martinez easily collects.
HALF-TIME: The first half comes to an end and Aston Villa have a deserved one-goal advantage thanks to Jacob Ramsey's well-taken goal. It could have been even better for the visitors, who also missed a penalty through Ollie Watkins early in the half.
45th min (+2): Another VAR check after Henderson goes to ground in the box but, while there's some contact, there's nowhere near worthy of the on-field decision of no penalty being overturned.
45th min: Mings goes into the book after catching Gakpo rather clumsily with a high boot around the chest area.
A brief VAR check for a possible red follows, but no further action is rightly taken.
43rd min: Liverpool now enjoying their first spell of systained pressure in the match but their main route to goal seems to be crosses and the Villa defence are first to everything.
Unai Emery will be delighted with how his team have played thus far.
38th min: Villa so, so close to a second!
Ramsey makes a late run in behind onto a free-kick that every Liverpool defender expects to be thrown into the mixer but is denied a second goal as Alisson pulls out a typically brilliant save .
27th min: GOAL! Aston Villa finally have the lead and it is a deserved one!
It comes from Jacob Ramsey, who ghosts in at the back post to meet a Douglas Luiz cross and sidefoot it home first time. A wonderful finish.
Watkins dusts himself down and looks to coolly pass the ball into Alisson's bottom left-hand corner but makes a complete hash of it and instead puts it well wide of the Kop-end goal.
What a wasted opportunity for the visitors.
Villa work it brilliantly to give McGinn the space for a first-time pass in behind and Konate clumsily trips Watkins in a desperate attempt to get back to give up the spot-kick.
No doubts over whether VAR will overturn that - it's a stonewaller.
14th min: This has descended into caginess rather quickly, with an engrossing physical battle ensuing in the centre of the park and setting the tone for the game as a whole.
5th min: A break in play after Liverpool whip a freekick into the box as both Ollie Watkins and Virgil van Dijk require treatment as a result of a clash of heads.
KICK-OFF: Under way at Anfield and the home crowd are straight into Roberto Firmino's song. We'll be hearing a lot of that today.
10 mins from kickoff: Here come the players to a warm reception. Can either of these two sides provide a boost to their European hopes with a win, or will we see a draw that in truth suits neither?
30 mins from kickoff: James Milner and Roberto Firmino get a warm welcome from all four sides of the ground as they emerge for their warm-ups. It must be such an odd feeling for both men to be saying goodbye after so long at the same club.
1 hr from kickoff: The team news is in! Roberto Firmino will get his chance at a final Anfield appearance after being passed fit to take a place on the bench.
1.5 hrs from kickoff: The Liverpool squad will get a 90-minute break from being shouted at for not tracking back today with Jurgen Klopp serving a touchline ban for this game. The German has been censured by the FA for his comments on referee Paul Tierney following a dramatic 4-3 win over Tottenham here.
2 hrs from kickoff: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News' live coverage of Liverpool vs. Aston Villa in the Premier League. Not only is this a big day in terms of both sides' European aspirations next term, it is sure to be an emotional send-off for Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, who will play their final Anfield games before departing on free transfers.
Jurgen Klopp perhaps unsurprisingly has stuck with the same starting XI that demolished Leicester City last time out.
There is a place on the bench for the fit-again Roberto Firmino as well as James Milner as they say farewell to Anfield, but Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both miss out.
Klopp himself will be banned from the touchline following an FA sanction for his comments about referee Paul Tierney.
Unai Emery has opted to make three changes to the team that beat Tottenham last time out, with Matty Cash and Lucas Digne coming in on either side of defence.
The Spaniard has also added heft to his midfield in replacing playmaker Emi Buendia with Boubacar Kamara.
MORE: Watch every Premier League match live with Fubo in Canada
What time does Liverpool vs Aston Villa kick off?
This Premier League match at Anfield kicks off on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m. BST.
Here's how that time translates across some of the major territories:
UK: The match will not be broadcast live in the UK due to the Saturday 3 p.m. kickoff broadcast embargo.
USA: This match will be streamed via Peacock, with additional streaming options available on Fubo, available to new users on a free trial.
Canada: Every Premier League game streams live in Canada on Fubo.
Australia: Optus Sport is the exclusive broadcaster of Premier League football in Australia with live and on-demand coverage.
MORE: Watch Premier League matches live with Fubo in USA