Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s return to Anfield as Aston Villa manager ended in a 1-0 defeat.
Here, the PA News Agency takes a look at how its afternoon unfolded.
His Villa team may have been booed as they left the tunnel, but a roar rose as Gerrard emerged behind them. Gerrard gave the Kop a little nod and then appeared to look for people he knew in the main stand behind him. It took the Kop eight minutes to get into his “Steve Gerrard” chant, but he was quickly drowned out by the cries of “Liverpool, Liverpool”. He received another rendition on the final whistle, but he wasn’t in the mood to hang around in accepting the adulation.
For over an hour the plan appeared to be based on the need to keep Liverpool at bay by any means necessary and although the hosts created a number of chances this strategy seemed to work. However, with the emphasis on defense when they got the ball back, he was often relegated aimlessly to no one in particular. Gerrard’s side came to life after falling behind when they went to a 4-4-2 by sending former Reds forward Danny Ings to team up with Ollie Watkins and that caused a lot of trouble for Liverpool for the last 16 minutes.
Gerrard didn’t sit for 90 minutes, standing in his technical area with his hands in his pockets or his arms crossed. He briefly turned away in disappointment when Mohamed Salah hit home the winning penalty, but he largely steered clear of the long-running sideline shenanigans between Jurgen Klopp and fourth official Graham Scott , with the couple constantly arguing over matters in the field. He cast a calm and collected figure, regularly consulting the coaching staff on how to fine-tune their approach, and was quick to offer advice. However, after a small wave at the Kop chanting his name at the final whistle, he applauded the traveling assistance before heading for the tunnel.