Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 1 match report: Daniel Sturridge the match-winner again as Simon Mignolet makes vital late save

Prolific striker guides Liverpool to another win as home side’s failings against top teams continue

Villa Park

Luis who? After a summer of endless speculation about the future of Luis Suarez, Liverpool are showing the world there is more to them than their suspended, unsettled Uruguayan striker. For the first time in five years they have started a Premier League campaign with back-to-back wins and for that they owe particular thanks to Daniel Sturridge who for the second week running earned the Merseysiders a 1-0 victory.

The forward's excellent first-half strike was his eighth in his last seven League outings and if he carries on this way he could play his way into contention for a place in the England squad. Sturridge admitted to Sky Sports afterwards that the World Cup was his aim, and if he carries on in this vein his manager, Brendan Rodgers, has no doubt he can establish himself as one of the Premier League's leading forwards.

"Daniel is a player I believe will prove one of the top strikers in this division," he said. "He has all the attributes – he is super quick, with a wonderful touch and great movement. He just needed an opportunity. He had a couple of difficult moves and it is just about providing him with an opportunity."

It was a very good goal he scored after 21 minutes to cap Liverpool's first-half dominance. This team can be profligate at times but not here, as they struck from their first clear opening. Jose Enrique played the ball in from the left, Philippe Coutinho stepped over it and on it ran to Sturridge as he entered the penalty box. He still had work to do but jinked past Antonio Luna and then rounded Brad Guzan before, with a change of feet, finishing high into the net with a prod from his left.

There were other notable positives for Rodgers as Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 matches. Kolo Touré's display in handling Christian Benteke underlined Rodgers' wisdom in bringing him in on a free transfer. "Kolo's a really experienced defender," said Rodgers. "I needed to replace Jamie Carragher with someone with experience and Kolo gives you that – a real winning mentality. He is really clever in his marking."

It was a solid, if not spectacular, victory from Liverpool who benefitted from a slow start by a Villa side who, according to manager Paul Lambert, felt the effects in their legs of an extra fixture in midweek at Chelsea. Lambert had given home debuts to three of his summer signings – the Danish international centre-back Jores Okore, Dutch midfielder Leandro Bacuna, and Luna, a Spanish full-back – yet they spent the first half on the back foot.

"I knew we'd have an adverse reaction from Saturday and Wednesday's game," said Lambert. "It wasn't until the last 15 minutes of the first half that we started to get a second wind. In the second half I thought we were excellent and gave it a go."

Although Benteke had hinted at his threat by shrugging aside Touré in the early moments, Villa showed little of the attacking menace displayed in their opening victory at Arsenal and unlucky loss at Chelsea. Finally, five minutes before the break, Benteke brought the home crowd to their feet. Collecting a bouncing ball from a corner with his back to goal, he held off Touré and came back inside before curling in a shot that his compatriot Simon Mignolet got down to touch behind for another corner.

Liverpool's failure to clear their lines then let in Andreas Weimann for another opportunity but his shot deflected off the back of Daniel Agger and flew just over.

As the second half went on, Liverpool sat back, even if Sturridge was always a threat on the break. From one run he would have teed up Jordan Henderson but for a fine block by Ron Vlaar; later on he had a shout for a penalty turned down after going down under a Guzan challenge.

It was at the other end that the late action occurred as Villa's rally almost brought a late reward, Gabriel Agbonlahor slicing a volley the wrong side of the post. With five minutes remaining, Benteke latched on to the ball just inside the Liverpool box. Touré came across swiftly to distract him but he still got in a shot, yet Mignolet flung himself to his left to palm it away.

There was also a Benteke penalty shout that fell on deaf ears, but for Villa it was a familiar story. They have beaten Liverpool at home just once this century and, moreover, took just one point at home against the top seven sides last season. Yet Lambert remained upbeat, saying: "Their goalkeeper has had two fantastic saves from Christian."

Mignolet also saved a penalty against Stoke last week so Sturridge is not the only one to have made an impressive start. Last season Liverpool did not win until 29 September; this season has begun rather more brightly.

"Since January we've been getting better and improving," added Rodgers, who was able to give a debut, off the bench, to Aly Cissokho. Nobody can say his Liverpool are a one-man team any longer.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan: Lowton (El Ahmadi, 65), Okore, Vlaar, Luna; Bacuna, Westwood (Helenius, 83), Delph, Agbonlahor; Weimann (Toney, 73), Benteke.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Johnson, Touré, Agger, Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas; Iago Aspas (Cissohko, 69), Sturridge, Coutinho (Allen, 84).

Referee: Mark Clatenburg

Man of the match: Sturridge (Liverpool)

Match rating: 6/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London