BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) - Liverpool added to Aston Villa's troubles as goals from Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert secured a comfortable 2-0 win on Saturday.
Brendan Rodgers' side were always in control at Villa Park and Borini's first half strike was followed a late effort from Rickie Lambert.
While Liverpool's win put pressure on the Premier League's top four, Villa's miserable record in front of goal showed no signs of improving and the pressure on boss Paul Lambert continues to mount.
Liverpool were without captain Steven Gerrard, with Rodgers opting not to risk the midfielder, who has a tight hamstring, ahead of Tuesday's League Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
Villa were able to welcome back Fabian Delph following a shoulder injury, but the mood around Villa Park was not one of optimism with only 11 goals in their first 21 league matches this season.
However, a planned supporters protest to boycott the club's famous Holte End stand for the first eight minutes failed to materialise in numbers.
Liverpool showed an obvious threat from the off with Philippe Coutinho shooting wide at the far post from Jordan Henderson's corner.
At the other end, Villa's Nathan Baker header over from Ashley Westwood's free kick, while Christian Benteke then nodded straight at Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Alberto Moreno had the ball in the net for the visitors, only to be denied by a linesman's flag, but Liverpool made no mistake in the 24th minute.
Henderson's inch-perfect cross from the right was stabbed in by Borini for his first Liverpool goal since April 2013.
The Reds could have quickly wrapped up the game with Borini powering a shot just over from inside the area before Raheem Sterling missed a fine chance after running onto Lucas Leiva's header.
Sterling was one-on-one with Brad Guzan but tried to chip the American who comfortably saved.
Villa could have an equalised just before the break with a long-range Carlos Sanchez effort nearly catching out Mignolet, who was able to grasp the ball at the second attempt to prevent any embarrassment.
The hosts came close following a well-worked pass with Westwood feeding Tom Cleverley who flicked the ball over the bar with the outside of his right foot.
Villa got lucky at the start of the second half when Martin Skrtel headed down Henderson's corner.
Borini was unable to make proper contact, with the ball hitting the post and Henderson's subsequent shot superbly kept out by Guzan.
Villa took off Cleverley and Westwood and brought on Andreas Weimann and new signing Carles Gil and those moves gave the Villa Park crowd a lift.
It took a magnificent stop by Mignolet to keep out Benteke's powerful effort after Baker had headed on.
Liverpool continued to threaten with Borini blazing over from Moreno's cross from the left.
But at the other end Gil's quick feet brought the crowd to life.
Villa were coming closer with Baker heading over and another delivery from Gil saw Benteke also miss the target.
Guzan needed to be at his best to push Lucas's effort wide of the post at the other end though and Liverpool, without being at their best, eventually sealed the points on 79 minutes.
Substitute Lambert drilled home from just inside the area after collecting Sterling's pass.
The England international's goal ensured there was no way back for Villa, who were again booed off by their disgruntled supporters at the end.