BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Premier League champion Liverpool was humiliated 7-2 by Aston Villa to end its perfect start to the title defense on Sunday.
Ollie Watkins scored a hat trick and Jack Grealish scored twice as Villa made it three wins out of three after only surviving in the league on the last day of last season.
Liverpool became the first reigning Premier League champions to concede seven in a game. The last time it happened in English football’s top division was in 1953.
With Alisson Becker out with a shoulder injury, Adrian was in the Liverpool goal and his mistake allowed Watkins to open the scoring in the fourth minute.
A poor attempt at a pass was pounced upon in the Liverpool box by Grealish, who laid the ball to Watkins for a simple finish.
Villa doubled its advantage when Watkins, again set up by Grealish, cut inside Joe Gomez and fired past Adrian into the top corner.
Liverpool reduced the deficit in the 33rd as the ball came to Mohamed Salah in the box and he cracked it in.
But within moments the visitors had conceded again, with John McGinn’s volley going past Adrian via a deflection off defender Virgil Van Dijk.
Watkins completed his treble in the 39th by heading home Trezeguet’s cross.
Ross Barkley then got his debut goal after joining on loan from Chelsea in the 55th, hitting a shot from outside the box that flew in off Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Grealish again the provider.
Salah fired in at the other end five minutes later to make it 5-2, but Villa was not finished, with Grealish adding a brace.
His first came in the 66th minute, another goal involving a deflection as the Villa skipper’s shot hit Fabinho en route to the net.
Watkins was then denied by Adrian, before Grealish burst clear of the Liverpool defense as he latched onto McGinn’s pass and calmly tucked the ball past Adrian.
With three wins from three games, Dean Smith’s Villa are up to second place in the table, level on points with Liverpool – which has played four matches – plus Leicester and Arsenal.
The quartet is three points behind Liverpool’s Merseyside rival, Everton, which Juergen Klopp’s side faces at Goodison Park in their next match on Oct. 17.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports