Reds stretch unbeaten run to 16 matches in all competitions with dramatic late away win…
Liverpool continued their fine run of form at the end of 2017 with a 2-1 victory over Premier League surprise package Burnley on a wet and blustery New Year’s Day at Turf Moor.
Kop boss Jürgen Klopp made seven changes to the side that defeated Leicester City on Saturday with in-form attacking duo Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah both missing through injury and many others, including Roberto Firmino, rested to the bench.
One of the players to come in, Dominic Solanke, was involved regularly throughout the opening exchanges but far too often his touch let him down at key moments.
For all their possession Liverpool struggled to create chances of note against a compact and well-organised Burnley rearguard.
The majority of their attempts were coming from distance as Nick Pope dealt well with an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drive and both Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané failed to find the target with speculative efforts.
The hosts went close with an angled Ashley Barnes effort early on, while Scott Arfield, who scored in the draw at Anfield in September, had a header stopped by a diving Simon Mignolet.
Things started to open up as half-time approached and Arfield was again fractionally away from giving Burnley a lead heading into the interval.
Klopp’s side improved marginally after the break but were still a long way from their best when a moment of inspiration from the previously under par Sadio Mané gave them the lead just after the hour mark.
The Senegal winger controlled a deflected Trent Alexander-Arnold cross on the edge of the box with his right foot before turning and hammering an unstoppable left-footer home for his eighth goal of a stop-start season.
Double-barrelled duo Alexander-Arnold and Oxlade-Chamberlain both tested Pope as Liverpool went in search of a second goal to make the outcome more secure.
Three minutes from time, and just as it had looked like further goals wouldn’t be required by the visitors, Mignolet could only turn substitute Sam Vokes’ header into the path of Johann Gudmundsson, who levelled at the back post.
The disappointment was short-lived however as Dejan Lovren headed an injury-time Oxlade-Chamberlain free-kick goalwards and the unlikely figure of Ragnar Klavan stooped to force it home from close range.
It was the defender’s first ever Premier League goal, and only his second overall for the Reds in 44 appearances.
Klopp, analysing the hard-fought three points at his post-match press conference, remarked: “We deserved the three points but a draw would have been absolutely OK as well and if we don’t score then even Burnley would have deserved it, it was just an open game.
“We had more of the ball, we played more, but the main job was to deny all the strengths of Burnley. When they win the ball, they are so tuned into these balls in behind – kind of channel balls – and Barnes running, [Jeff] Hendrick running, it’s really difficult to defend.
“We wanted to have a high last line to help a little bit, but that means we need to be even more concentrated. As long as the game is open, one goal can be the winner. It looked for a while like that until Burnley scored and then we scored pretty much the twin of that goal, very similar.
“It is just difficult to defend when you lose the first header, which we did and which Burnley did, it’s an open ball in the six-yard box and is really difficult. You need to be there – and both teams were there.
“We were the lucky side, but – as I said – I am really happy about attitude, character and all that stuff. You need to win your average games, you need to win with your attitude on your not 100 per cent best days.”
The success means the Merseysiders have concluded a gruelling festive schedule of four games in the space of 10 days with 10 points out of a possible 12.
Regardless of results elsewhere over the next couple of days, Klopp’s men can now turn their attention to the small matter of a Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round on Friday night knowing they will remain fourth in the league standings.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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