BIRMINGHAM: Colombian super-sub Jhon Duran scored two late goals as Aston Villa salvaged a 3-3 home draw with Liverpool in a thriller that left them on the cusp of a place in the Champions League next season.

A match that started with Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez conceding a shocking own-goal after 62 seconds turned into a great escape, and near-win, as Duran came on to save the night with strikes in the 85th and 88th minutes.

Villa are now on 68 points with one game remaining, five clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who have two matches still to come but must beat title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday to stay in contention.

Tottenham end their season at bottom side Sheffield United on Sunday, while Unai Emery’s side play their last game at 12th placed Crystal Palace.

Liverpool were gifted the opener when Argentine international Martinez fumbled a tame Harvey Elliot cross, desperately clawing the ball across the line and into his own net.

It was the third own-goal Martinez has scored in the Premier League, more than any other goalkeeper in the competition’s history.

Villa, who would have made sure of fourth place with a win, equalised 10 minutes later through Youri Tielemans on the Belgian’s return from three matches out due to injury.

The joy was short-lived as Cody Gakpo made it 2-1 to the third-placed visitors in the 23rd, after a VAR check for offside, and Jarell Quansah then headed in off the post from a free kick for his first Premier League goal in the 48th.

Liverpool looked set for all three points in manager Juergen Klopp’s penultimate match, a clash that could have ended with a far higher scoreline with both sets of fans disappointed by VAR and plenty of missed chances.

“We got a bit of luck. It’s been a tough few weeks with lads coming back and playing through the pain barrier. This place got us going,” Villa captain John McGinn told Sky Sports television.

“Big Jhon is a bit nuts at times, he’s a nightmare to play against.

“There’s some of us that have never been close to the Champions League in our life. The manager has a no-excuse mentality. People have written us off and we’ve floated under the radar. We’ll have our Man City tops on tomorrow.”

Diego Carlos missed a great chance for an equaliser for Villa while Ollie Watkins, who set up Tielemans goal with a pass from the byline, had the ball in the net in the first half but was ruled offside.

Elliot thought he had Liverpool’s fourth but was also denied by the flag for offside and then Duran came on and changed the match.

The equaliser almost took him by surprise, the ball ricocheting off him with Alisson stranded.

“It got away from us. We played really good football. We were really good, played a lot of good stuff and caused a lot of problems,” said Klopp, whose last game with Liverpool will be against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield.

“They scored an equaliser and I don’t even know how,” added the German.

“We wanted to win the game. In the moment, when we gave away the 3-2, that was really tricky. That’s it, that’s the story of the game.”

##########