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Liverpool ease past struggling Villa

Gerard Houllier's Villa side slumped to defeat on his return to Liverpool for the first time since leaving in 2004.
Gerard Houllier's Villa side slumped to defeat on his return to Liverpool for the first time since leaving in 2004.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gerard Houllier's return to Anfield ends in defeat as Aston Villa lose 3-0 to Liverpool
  • David Ngog, Ryan Babel and Maxi Rodriguez all on target for Liverpool
  • Villa just two points off Premier League drop zone after fourth defeat in a row
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(CNN) -- Gerard Houllier's return to Anfield ended in a heavy defeat on Monday night as his Aston Villa side were beaten 3-0 by former club Liverpool.

Houllier left Liverpool in 2004, after winning five trophies in six years at the club, but the Frenchman's Villa team are now struggling in 16th in the English Premier League -- just two points off the drop zone -- after their fourth loss in a row.

Liverpool took the lead in the 14th minute when a corner from the right was headed on by Martin Skrtel and David Ngog was on hand to nod home his eight goal of the season from close range.

And Villa had barely recovered from that setback when they conceded a quick second goal.

There was a hint of offside when Ryan Babel collected the ball, but the Dutch striker's turn and shot had too much power for goalkeeper Brad Freidel.

Liverpool added a third early in the second half when Villa were caught on the break, allowing Ngog to break free on the left before playing the ball inside for Maxi Rodriguez to fire home.

The win sees Liverpool move up to eighth place in the table, on the back of an impressive home record which has seen them win five out of their eight games at Anfield.

Elsewhere across Europe, a last minute goal from Christian Maggio gave Napoli a 1-0 Italian Serie A win over Palermo.

That result means Napoli remain fourth in the table, but they are now level on points with third-placed Juventus and trail leaders AC Milan by just six points.

Meanwhile, the only Spanish Primera Liga match also saw the home side win 1-0, as a goal from Tunisian forward Lassad gave Deportivo La Coruna a narrow victory over Hercules.

That success lifts Deportivo up two places in the table to 12th, while Hercules slip a place to 14th position.