Premier League - Benteke double floors Liverpool

Premier League, Anfield - Liverpool 1 (Gerrard 87) Aston Villa 3 (Benteke 29 51, Weimann 40)

Christian Benteke scored twice as Aston Villa collected only their second away win of the season in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield.

Paul Lambert's side's counter-attacking strategy paid off handsomely as they resisted some frantic home attacks to move ahead on 29 minutes when Belgian forward Benteke planted a shot beyond home goalkeeper Jose Reina from 22 yards out via the inside of his right-hand post.

Benteke was involved in the second goal on 40 minutes when he accepted a pass from Andreas Weimann to slip a back heel into the Austrian forward's path. He had plenty of time to bundle the ball under Reina from eight yards out as Villa moved two goals clear, much to the disbelief of a home support still basking in the afterglow of a fine 3-2 win at West Ham United six days earlier.

If that goal was an item of real beauty, the third goal was down to Liverpool's wretched defending as Benteke was allowed to bound unchallenged into the heart of the home area before beating Reina with some ease on 51 minutes.

Liverpool had appealed for a penalty seconds before Villa moved three goals clear as Ciaran Clark appealed to pull Daniel Agger's shirt, but replays suggested both players were equally culpable in the jostling match as referee Neil Swarbrick - who enjoyed a fine afternoon - rightly waved play on.

Liverpool continued to binge on possession, but were ultimately undone by their own finishing as Villa continued to hold firm in the face of home pressure. But it was pressure without any real hint of a true cutting edge.

Steven Gerrard flicked a Glen Johnson shot into the net with his head on 87 minutes, but the game was already well up for Liverpool with some of their fans already scampering for the exit doors.

Villa suddenly look like a side transformed and are clearly in a confident mood after their 4-1 win at Norwich in midweek booked their place in the last four of the League Cup.

For Liverpool and coach Brendan Rodgers, it is back to the drawing board to try to figure out what went wrong after it had gone so right for them at West Ham's Upton Park.

This was the first time an away side scored three goals at Anfield since Villa won 3-1 in August 2009. More importantly for Lambert, it means his side are now three points clear of the relegation places in the table.

Liverpool remain in 12th place with 22 points from their 17 matches. They are only five points behind local rivals Everton in fourth spot, but will need to address their inability to finish off large dollops of possession.

Liverpool's best moments came before they fell behind with Gerrard forcing Brad Guzan to save and Eric Lichaj almost turning a Stewart Downing cross into his own net, but it could be argued that Villa had several chances to add to their tally on the break.

Reina was forced to save a Benteke header in the opening seconds while the Spanish goalkeeper was alert to tackle Weimann after he rounded him on 16 minutes. Weimann should have added a second when he lifted the ball over the bar on 32 minutes as Liverpool's inadequacies in defence were exposed.

The home side threw on Joe Cole for Jonjo Shelvey at half-time but never looked like breaching Villa more than once as Suarez saw a free-kick scrambled clear on 66 minutes. The Uruguayan forward was booked for dissent in the dying seconds as Liverpool's fate became more than apparent.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Christian Benteke (Aston Villa): Stunning display of forward power play by the young Belgian striker. Glorious outing for him and his side.

PLAYER RATINGS

LIVERPOOL: Reina 5, Johnson 6, Skrtel 5, Agger 5, Downing 7, Allen 5, Lucas 5, Gerrard 6, Sterling 5, Shelvey 5, Suarez 5. Subs: Henderson 6, Cole 6.

ASTON VILLA: Guzan 7, Lowton 7, Baker 7, Clark 7, Lichaj 7, Holman 7, Westwood 7, Banna 7, Herd 7, Weimann 8, Benteke 9. Subs: Delph 6, N'Zogbia 6, El Ahmadi 6.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS