By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
Liverpool came from behind to beat Burnley 3-1 in what was a hotly-contested Premier League game at Turf Moor.
All four goals came in the second half – Jack Cork gave the Clarets a scrappy opener following a corner routine, but James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Xherdan Shaqiri were on hand to score and preserve the unbeaten record.
Manager Jurgen Klopp rang the changes before this one, making seven changes to the starting lineup as he rotated to keep players fresh, and left Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench and Sadio Mané out of the matchday squad.
In their place the Merseyside Derby hero Divock Origi started alongside Daniel Sturridge. and Naby Keita was in the XI for the first time since the trip to Naples in October.
It was a scrappy start to the game as the Clarets came out to impose their physicality on this potentially rusty Liverpool side – that man Origi started brightly running the channels, only to be met by crunching challenges from the likes of Phil Bardsley and James Tarkowski.
Liverpool’s best opportunity early on came in the 18th minute when a James Milner cross went over everybody to land at the feet of Sturridge at the far post, but the Englishman chose to try and control instead of taking the shot first-time and his touch only knocked the ball out for a goal kick.
This was soon followed by a very worrying moment for the Reds after Joe Gomez stayed down holding his ankle after a challenge from Ben Mee and an argument with the advertising hoardings – he was replaced by Trent Alexander-Arnold and the manager confirmed after the game that it doesn’t look too good.
Liverpool should have taken the lead just before the half-hour mark, when a corner set-up a free header for Virgil van Dijk, but the Dutchman could only head straight into the gloves of a very grateful Joe Hart.
Ten minutes later and it was the home side that thought they had taken the lead when Robbie Brady’s free-kick was volleyed home superbly by Ashley Barnes, but Liverpool had gotten their high-line defensive spot on and made sure that the Anglo-Austrian (I know!) was offside.
The visitors needed a strong start to the second half to impose themselves on the game more, and they almost took the lead very early when Daniel Sturridge pulled the trigger from 20 yards, only to see his effort pushed wide well by Hart.
Naby Keita was the next to try with a hit from a similar position that seemed destined for the top corner, but the former-Manchester City stopper produced a magical save to tip it onto the post and behind.
But Burnley eventually took the lead in the 57th minute when Tarkowski’s header from a corner was spilled by Alisson – Wood and Barnes were unable to force it past the Brazilian but Jack Cork was there to eventually tap home and give the side sat in the relegation zone an unlikely advantage.
The lead wouldn’t last long forever as James Milner equalised for the Reds when he found the bottom corner from range after some excellent hold up play from Origi – Joe Hart had been Liverpool’s nemesis but he was powerless to stop the vice-captain’s effort.
Klopp signalled his side’s intent when he made his final two substitutions on 65 minutes, bringing Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on to replace Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi, whose name the travelling support chanted with earnest as he made his way off.
It would prove to be an inspired change as Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick routine was squared across goal by Virgil van Dijk and tapped home by Firmino, less than three minutes after entering the fray.
The Reds pushed for a goal to make it comfortable with less than ten minutes to go, and they will be wondering how they didn’t manage it when Hart was alert to deny Keita and Salah, before the Guinean was stopped twice more by blocks from Tarkowski and Bardsley on the line.
Salah looked to put the game to bed again in the 86th minute when he was released by Firmino, but it was on his weaker right foot and his effort was far too tame to beat the excellent Joe Hart.
But it was Xherdan Shaqiri who would deal the killer blow when a superb counter attack which started with Alisson, found Salah via Sturridge, who lifted the ball across the penalty area to the Swiss who fired home with immeasurable composure.
For Liverpool it’s a trip down to Bournemouth for the Premier League’s early kick-off on Saturday, while Burnley welcome Brighton to Turf Moor at 3pm.