A sensational first-half hat-trick from Ollie Watkins helped Aston Villa to a stunning 7-2 victory over Liverpool to end the champions' 100 per cent start to the season in extraordinary fashion.
Liverpool started badly at Villa Park as a poor pass from Adrian – deputising for Alisson in goal for the visitors after the Brazilian picked up a shoulder injury – gifted Watkins the opener in the fourth minute.
If there was an element of good fortunate about Watkins' first goal in a Villa shirt, his second was all his own fine work as he cut inside before firing into the top corner to stun the champions and make it 2-0 in the 22nd minute.
Mohamed Salah's fine left-foot finish seemed to get Liverpool back in the game in the 33rd minute, but John McGinn's deflected strike two minutes later restored Villa's two-goal advantage.
Watkins completed his hat-trick inside 39 minutes, with former Everton midfielder Ross Barkley – making his debut after joining Villa on loan – making it five, 10 minutes into the second half.
Salah did give Liverpool hope on the hour mark, before a late double from Grealish completed a remarkable victory for the team who just avoided relegation last season.
Here, we rate the players on both sides…
In a season of goalkeeping howlers, his one for the first was up with the worst of them
Bizarre to see him not on the same wavelength as his regular defensive colleagues
Turned inside out for Villa’s second and will have better nights than this one
Van Dijk 5
Booked. Rare to see him so flustered and even deflected the third past his hapless keeper
Was his usual threat going forward but was severely tested in a strange first half
Got into some threatening positions but too often chose the wrong option
Struggled to make any meaningful impact and bypassed by the Villa midfield
Did not get any foothold in proceedings but kept truing to provide a spark
Great finishes and had Mane not been missing, might have run riot
Wasted an early opportunity to level the scores and that might have been crucial
Creative and had a couple of decent efforts but will obviously take time to gel
Made a hash of one pass but redeemed himself with a series of decent saves
A lot of danger came down his flank but he stuck to his task with gusto
A calming presence alongside a more headstrong partner but tested to the full
One buccaneering run into the Liverpool half summed up this guy’s approach to the game
Did not get forward a lot but did not need to and was pretty sure-footed
Lucky not to concede a penalty and sent his volley the right way to get a deflected goal
Douglas Luiz 8
Neat and intelligent, ss quietly an effective performer as you are likely to find
Could not have wished for a better debut, capping it with the deflected fifth
A great assist for Watkins’ hat-trick goal and showed a great work ethic all night
Repaying his transfer fee and giving Villa the goal instinct they have lacked
Relished going up against one of the elite and was in simply sublime form
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