Aston Villa beat Liverpool at Anfield
Liverpool manager blames sloppy defending as struggling Villa take full points and spoil Merseysiders' fine recent run of three wins on the trot
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was left disappointed by the manner in which his team conceded the three goals that saw the Reds' recent change in fortunes end with a surprise 3-1 defeat against struggling Aston Villa at Anfield.
Rodgers' side had won their last three matches in all competitions, but Liverpool had only themselves to blame as Villa romped to a convincing victory away from home thanks to Christian Benteke's double either side of an Andreas Weimann goal.
Although Steven Gerrard got one back for the hosts in the closing stages, it wasn't close to being enough as the damage had already been done and Rodgers was left fuming at the careless manner of Liverpool's defending.
"We are very disappointed and to be honest I didn't see that coming as our momentum and confidence coming into the game was probably as high as it's been," Rodgers said.
"We probably got punished for our decision making in that first 20 minutes. We were a bit careless. We conceded some poor goals. We weren't quite at it with our intensity and pressure in the game and they were a threat on the counter-attack and got the goals."
Rodgers admitted Liverpool were lacking intensity and energy right from the start and that gave Villa, who started the day just above the relegation zone, the belief that the game and three valuable points were there for the taking.
"I thought we were flat. Once that happens, combined with sloppy play and giving the ball away in poor areas, we contrived to concede bad goals," Rodgers added.
"Benteke was outstanding but he got his shot in too easy for the first.
"The second goal, we never tracked the runners into the box, and then the third goal we've given it away in our half and he's broken through and nearly runs to the edge of the six-yard box before finishing.
"It was so unlike us because we're usually strong defensively. It was very much self-inflicted."
While Rodgers was frustrated with his own players, he also felt Liverpool should have been awarded a penalty for Ciaran Clark's pull on Daniel Agger's shirt early in the second half.
"I thought when it was 2-0 we should have had a penalty so I'm not sure what we are going to have to do to get one," he said.
"The referees are asked to look at the shirt pulling. He gets pulled to the floor, it goes to 2-1 and you have most of the second half to apply the pressure.
"But as soon as the third goal went in we looked deflated and then Villa have no need to come out and go after the game and they just sat. For us it was a bad day at the office."
Villa extended their unbeaten run to five matches with only a second win in their last 17 away league games.
The win also lifted Paul Lambert's team three points clear of the relegation zone and the Villa boss said: "I think the whole performance was fabulous, the goals were excellent, as was the way we defended.
"Benteke has been unbelievable while Andy Weimann knows where the goal is, he's a natural finisher and his enthusiasm and work ethic are second to none.
"The back three were terrific and put their bodies on the line when they had to."