BIRMINGHAM, England -- Daniel Sturridge scored with a superb finish in the first half Saturday to give Liverpool a 1-0 win over Aston Villa and maintain the team's strong start to the Premier League season.
Sturridge, who started his youth career with Villa, received the ball at the edge of the area in the 21st minute, rounded goalkeeper Brad Guzan and maintained his balance to poke the ball into the roof of the net with two Villa defenders rushing back to block the shot.
It was Sturridge's second goal of the season and Liverpool's second clean sheet as Brendan Rodgers' team has now started with two straight 1-0 wins despite having star striker Luis Suarez suspended.
"The manager's philosophy is that we play well as a team and that's what we did," Sturridge said. "It's nice to score, but it's more important we win. I am just playing my normal game. I have matured a little bit in terms of confidence and playing regularly. This is how I have been as a kid, but I've now been given a chance to show what I can do in a first-team environment."
Villa, which beat Arsenal 3-1 in its opening game, fell to its second straight defeat after a midweek loss to Chelsea.
Liverpool had to wait until the end of September before recording a win last year, but is making its best start to a Premier League season in five years. The Reds are second behind Chelsea in the standings on goal difference.
"It was a terrific win for us," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "We didn't have a good start at all last year. Since the turn of the year we've been getting better and better. What's important now is the mentality of the group is to win and win together. We just have to keep it going."
Villa looked out of pace in the first half but dominated in the second period, creating several chances only to be denied by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
The Belgian goalie, who saved a penalty against Stoke, again proved solid late in the game when he parried Christian Benteke's powerful shot from the right side of the box with a spectacular dive in the 86th minute.
"In the second half you expect more pressure from them but overall Simon has made a couple of terrific saves and we got three points," Rodgers said.