Fans have joked Willian is responsible for ‘ending’ Steven Gerrard’s career as a player and a manager.

Starting on the right wing was a familiar face and ghost of Gerrard’s past. Willian made his second start of the season after joining the Cottagers as a free agent in the summer.

The 34-year-old was a constant threat out wide, running Villa’s full-backs ragged throughout.

It’s the second time Willian has managed to profit at Gerrard’s expense. Back in 2014, he scored the second goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

Willian turned home into an open net in added time to seal victory and send Liverpool, who were challenging for the Premier League title, into a downward spiral.

The Reds lost the title on the final day to Manchester City, with Gerrard departing the club for LA Galaxy a year later.

Willian in action against Aston Villa. (Image Credit: Alamy)Fans on social media picked up on how influential Willian has been on Gerrard’s career, claiming it’s the strangest coincidence in football.

One person said: “Willian has put the final nail in Gerrard’s second coffin.”

Another tweeted: “Willian ended Gerrard’s player and manager career nah.”

A third put: “He’s a bonafide Chelsea legend for getting Gerrard sacked.”

While someone added: “You’re telling me Willian came back to England to dunk on Gerrard one more time?”

Harrison Reed opened the scoring for Marco Silva’s side midway through the first half before Aleksandar Mitrovic converted a penalty just past the hour mark.

Gerrard in conversation with assistant manager Gary McAllister. (Image Credit: Alamy)A Tyrone Mings own goal six minutes from time wrapped up all three points for Fulham while also sealing Gerrard’s fate.

Villa released a statement shortly after the final whistle confirming Gerrard’s departure.

CEO Christian Purslow said: “The board has come to this decision following a full evaluation of results and performances over the calendar year. We were clear when we appointed Steven that we set an objective of continuous improvement but that has not been achieved despite everybody’s best efforts and we believe the time is right to make these changes now.

“The process of appointing a new head coach is underway and we will update supporters as soon as possible.”