Liverpool rescued a point against Aston Villa thanks to a controversial penalty gained by striker Luis Suarez.
The visitors looked set to grab all three points in a thrilling contest at Anfield when the Uruguayan went down easily under challenge from Villa keeper Brad Guzan.
Despite strong protests from the Villa players, referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot and England captain Steven Gerrard fired hometo spare his team’s blushes.
Buoyed by a 3-1 victory in the same fixture last season, Villa started the game strongly and almost scored with barely two minutes on the clock. Striker Christian Benteke's flick bounced into the path of strike partner Gabriel Agbonlahor who poked the ball past the advancing Liverpool ‘keeper Simon Mignolet but had to watch agonisingly as the ball trickled past the post.
The Liverpool midfield were totally overpowered by the visitors and on 25 minutes Fabian Delph played a pinpoint pass down the left to send Gabby Agbonlahor clear. The Villa paceman turned Reds defender Kolo Toure inside out before firing the ball across the six yard line where fellow striker Andreas Weimann poked home to silence The Kop.
The away team doubled their lead on 37 minutes with another counter attacking move which found Agbonlahor this time on the right hand side. He whipped in a perfect cross which beat Toure and Mignolet leaving Belgian striker Benteke with the simplest task of nodding the ball into an empty net for his second goal in two matches.
The Villans were well worth their lead and should have carried it into half time but a lapse of concentration allowed the home team a first half lifeline.
Suarez picked the ball up on the left and faked to shoot before passing to Jordan Henderson on the right side of the area. His flick fell perfectly into the path of striker Daniel Sturridge who made no mistake in poking the ball past Guzan's from 10 yards.
The goal less than a minute before the break certainly changed the game and fired Brendan Rogers’ team up at the restart. Their cause was further helped when Agbonlahor, easily the best player on the park, was forced to limp off with an injury.
On 53 minutes a right cross from Gerrard sent Suarez free on the left of the box. The Premiership’s leading scorer nicked the ball past the advancing Guzan before dropping to the ground. The American goalkeeper claimed he withdrew his hands but replays showed there was some contact, albeit minimal. Despite protests from the Villa players, referee Moss was certain it was a foul and pointed straight to the spot.
After the game Villa boss Paul Lambert was adamant it was not a penalty but refused to accuse Suarez of diving.
Reds manager Brendan Rogers also batted away the accusations saying his team should have had a spot kick early in the game when the ball appeared to hit Villa defender Leandro Bacuna on the arm before going for a corner