Skip to main content

Gerrard penalty keeps Liverpool's European hopes alive

March 31, 2013 -- Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT)
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard fires the winner against Aston Villa, with the England midfielder's second-half penalty earning a 2-1 victory in the English Premier League clash. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard fires the winner against Aston Villa, with the England midfielder's second-half penalty earning a 2-1 victory in the English Premier League clash.
HIDE CAPTION
Gerrard gives Liverpool victory
Gerrard gives Liverpool victory
Gerrard gives Liverpool victory
Gerrard gives Liverpool victory
Gerrard gives Liverpool victory
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Steven Gerrard's second-half penalty gives Liverpool 2-1 victory at Aston Villa
  • Win keeps Liverpool in the hunt for Europa League place, leaves Villa in bottom three
  • Both clubs have U.S. ownership and are struggling to regain past glories
  • Liverpool manager hails Luis Suarez and insists EPL's top scorer will not be sold

(CNN) -- It's been a weekend of contrasting fortunes for American club owners in the English Premier League.

The Glazer family can look forward to Manchester United's imminent record-extending 20th league title, and their fifth since a leveraged takeover in 2005 that left one of the world's wealthiest clubs saddled with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.

For Ellis Short, owner of Saturday's beaten opponents Sunderland, the prospect of losing top-flight status is all too real after a 1-0 defeat that left his team just one point above the relegation zone and marked the end of the reign of manager Martin O'Neill after less than two seasons.

He was replaced Sunday by controversial former Italian forward Paulo Di Canio, whose previous managerial club job was with English third division side Swindon.

One of O'Neill's former players, Paul Lambert, has been seemingly on the verge of the sack for most of this season but the Aston Villa manager seems likely to see it out despite Sunday's 2-1 home defeat by Liverpool, which kept his side in the bottom three but only four points behind 12th-placed Southampton.

Read: Own-goal gives United victory at Sunderland

Ginola on why PSG are worth it
CNN FC: Countdown to quarterfinals
Is Juventus 'unsinkable'?

"Yes, definitely," Lambert said when asked if his team could avoid the drop, with seven games to play.

"I think anybody who was here today would say the same. We're certainly playing well enough. We don't look like a team down the bottom at the minute.

"If we keep going the way we're going, we'll win more games than not. There will be so many twists and turns."

Lambert has been consistently backed by Villa's U.S. owner Randy Lerner, who has focused on Villa since ending his ownership of NFL team the Cleveland Browns in August 2012.

Lerner, who in 2006 became only the second owner of an EPL club, fell out with O'Neill ahead of the 2010-11 season and replaced the Northern Irishman with Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish before appointing Lambert last June.

The Scot, with considerably smaller finances to work with than his predecessors, has stuck doggedly to his task of shaping a new team out of young talent -- the most notable being 22-year-old Belgium striker Christian Benteke, who struck his 18th goal this season to put the 1982 European champion ahead against Liverpool.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has, likewise, been backed by his club's American owners -- Fenway Sports Group -- to overhaul the team and try to return to the glory days of the 1970s and '80s in which the team won four of its five continental crowns and 11 of 18 English championships.

Read: Nelson Mandela's legacy - How EPL club fell for Africa

The experiment is still a work in progress, but a mixture of youth and experience came up trumps on Sunday as 22-year-old midfielder Jordan Henderson and veteran captain Steven Gerrard -- with a 60th-minute penalty after Luis Suarez was fouled -- replied with the goals that lifted seventh-placed Liverpool to within five points of European qualification.

Football helps champion street kids
Becker: Ronaldo the tennis ace?
Boateng: Racism in football must end

If the Reds can't close that gap then Rodgers won't again have the distractions of the Europa League next season, so one of his main aims will be to keep 29-goal striker Suarez at the club.

The Uruguayan heads the Premier League charts with 23 and has already suggested that he would consider any offer from clubs playing in top competitions such as the Champions League.

"We don't have to sell him for the money," Rodgers said. "He's very happy. We're trying to build a group here and add to it. We want to keep striving forward."

Suarez returned to England from his country's midweek South American World Cup qualifier against Chile, a 2-0 defeat in which he was booked -- triggering a suspension for the next match in June against Venezuela -- and also seemingly punched an opponent in the face, which may result in further action by FIFA.

"He came back late on Thursday," Rodgers said. "He was in training on Friday and I was thinking how tired he was -- his face, his body. He just looked totally shattered from all the travel and exertions from the game.

"But you look at him today -- his energy and willingness to work for the team, and then just his sheer quality. His imagination in the game is incredible.

"He really frightens defenders, and that led to a penalty."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT