By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool got back to winning ways in the Premier League against Burnley, beating Sean Dyche’s side 4-2 at Anfield. The win sees the Reds close the gap on league leaders Manchester City to one point.
Roberto Firmino got the scoring underway for Jürgen Klopp’s men as he broke his goal scoring drought in the 19th minute and levelled the game after a controversial Burnley opener.
Sadio Mané continued his fine scoring run when he scored Liverpool’s second to put them in the lead, and Firmino netted again in the second half to seemingly cap off the win.
A late Burnley goal sent nerves roaring around Anfield, but a second goal for Manè in injury time secured all three points for the Reds of Merseyside.
Klopp made two changes from the side that drew at Goodison Park. Roberto Firmino reclaimed his starting spot as he replaced Divock Origi, and Adam Lallana picked up a rare start in midfield, replacing club captain Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool got off to a disastrous start, going a goal down in the opening six minutes. A cheap corner given away by Joel Matip came back to haunt the Reds as Ashley Westwood scored directly from the resulting set-piece.
The Reds were seemingly hard done by as goalkeeper Alisson Becker was seen to be fouled by James Tarkowski before the ball hit the back of the net. Referee Andre Marriner, who did not see the foul, allowed the goal to stand and booked the Brazilian keeper for protesting the decision.
Despite initially struggling to respond to the controversial goal, the Reds increased the pressure on Burnley at every opportunity and found themselves level after 19 minutes.
Lallana brought the ball forward down the left flank before switching it to Mohamed Salah down the right wing. The Egyptian linked up brilliantly with Gini Wijnaldum before firing the ball across goal where Firmino was waiting to tap it into the empty net.
The Reds cashed in on their own bit of fortune as the ball ricocheted off Tom Heaton and Tarkowski before landing at the feet of the Brazilian striker. Anfield rejoiced and collectively breathed a sigh of relief. 1-1.
Relief quickly turned to ecstasy as Liverpool took the lead minutes later. A high press by Lallana saw the ball cannon off the English midfielder and back into the Burnley box into the path of Salah. Charlie Taylor put in a brilliant tackle on the Egyptian but, unfortunately for Burnley, the ball fell at the feet of Mané who expertly curled it into the top corner with a first time finish. After 29 minutes the Reds finally had the lead.
Klopp’s men continued to control the game for the rest of the half but were unable to carve out any clear chances to grab a third. Despite the early shake, the Reds fought back hard to ensure they were in the lead by the half time whistle.
As the second half kicked off, it was clear to see that Burnley had opted for a change in tactics, looking to keep possession in the opening moments as opposed to playing long balls. However, as Liverpool got more into the half Burnley reverted to their original, more direct tactical approach.
Having the majority of possession, it was just a matter of time until Liverpool found a third, which materialised in the 68th minute. Unfortunately for Burnley, the cause of the goal was attributable to their own keeper, as Heaton again made a calamitous error.
The visiting goalkeeping drilled a goal kick straight to Salah who was again through on goal. For the second time in the game, Taylor denied the Egyptian with a brilliant tackle, only for the ball to fall into the path of Firmino who again tapped the ball into an empty net. 3-1.
Liverpool continued to impress with their play and almost had a fourth in the 82nd minute. Firmino expertly found Trent Alexander-Arnold who curled a first time ball across the face of the goal and into the path of Mané. The Senegalese hitman, who had the goal at his mercy, threw himself at the ball only for him to hit the cross bar from point blank range.
Liverpool looked in control but a late Burnley goal threw a spanner in the works at Anfield. A long ball into the box took a couple deflections before falling at the feet of Johann Gudmundsson who stuck it in the net from close range. The Icelandic midfielder had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes but made the impact that Dyche would have wanted. 3-2 in the 90th minute.
The noise and temperature went up a level around Anfield as Burnley began to press deep into injury time. Fortunately for those in attendance, a quick breakaway saw Daniel Sturridge play Mané through on goal, as the Senegalese looked to put the three points away.
A quick first touch to take him past Heaton saw the No.10 alone in front of an empty net, as an easy finish secured the win and saw the Kop cheer with relief.
The win sees Liverpool pick up all three points which puts them within touching distance of Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League. Liverpool travel away to Bayern Munich in midweek, before returning to England for Premier League action against Fulham on Sunday.
With the current Champions not scheduled to play in the Premier League for another three weeks, a win at Craven Cottage could see Klopp’s men reclaim top spot by Sunday afternoon.