Liverpool 4-2 Burnley: Talking points as Liverpool show style and spirit

Alam Khan - Reporter 18:14 10/03/2019
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Robert Firmino celebrates

Doubles for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino sealed a Liverpool comeback win that put them a point behind leaders Manchester City.

Relegation-battling Burnley took a controversial sixth-minute lead with Ashley Westwood’s first goal in three years.

As the midfielder curled in directly from a corner, Alisson was sandwiched by Jack Cork and James Tarkowski, who seemed to lean down on the Reds keeper to avoid him rising to reach the ball.

Alisson was booked for his vehement protests.

But back came the Reds, who levelled when both keeper Tom Heaton and Tarkowski somehow failed to cut out Mohamed Salah’s low cross and Firmino had a tap in.

Mane then finished coolly after more good pressing on the Burnley backline before Firmino slotted in again from close range.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson poked in an injury-time strike, but Mane added a fourth just before the end as Liverpool matched a club record, set in 1988, for most points after 30 games.

REDS SHOW FIGHTING SPIRIT AND STYLE

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Anyone questioning Liverpool’s willingness – and ability – to fight for the title need look no further than this display to find a resounding answer.

With a blizzard engulfing Anfield at times and gusty winds to aid Burnley’s expected aerial attacking bombardment, this had all the makings of an upset result, especially when the visitors ahead.

It was controversial, wouldn’t have counted if VAR had been in use, and Liverpool’s hopes could have been blown away had they not composed themselves and shown the spirit and style needed to keep pace with Manchester City at the top.

Key to this was the return to form of their fearsome threesome up front.

Salah didn’t get his 50th club goal, but was back to his bewitching best, conjuring up opportunities with the spellbinding skill we have witnessed on countless occasions.

Roberto Firmino got two tap-ins, but swapped positions with Salah on the wing to make several clever supporting runs.

Sadio Mane also roamed to create danger and became the fifth Liverpool player to score in six consecutive home home league games, joining Salah, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez.

It was the perfect response to recent criticism – and Liverpool are definitely up for the fight.

LALLANA OFFERS FRESH IMPETUS 

Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana

There was much consternation and confusion pre-match when Adam Lallana’s name appeared in the starting line up.

Despair even as Xherdan Shaqiri was ignored again.

Having struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, Lallana has played a bit-part role in the Reds title challenge and last started in the disappointing 1-1 draw at West Ham.

But two seasons ago the midfielder was among Liverpool’s best players – and impressed for England too – and Jurgen Klopp clearly hasn’t forgotten what he can contribute.

Here, Lallana provided a link between midfield and the frontmen that has been somewhat lacking recently, and much-needed creativity alongside the more diligent and defensive Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.

Lallana was industrious and inventive. He was also hungry, to perform and prove a point.

The challenge to block Phil Bardsley’s clearance was crucial in his side’s second goal.

That desire and willingness to fight for the ball, for his place, was welcome. As he left to a standing ovation, Klopp’s decision was vindicated.

HEATON HAPLESS AS HE FAILS ANFIELD AUDITION 

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

After a difficult summer where injury ruled him out of the World Cup and he lost his starting spot to Joe Hart, it appeared Tom Heaton could be on his way out of Burnley.

He was even linked with a move to the Championship to get playing time.

But his return to the No1 spot at the end of December coincided with the club’s upturn in fortunes as they battle against relegation.

Heaton was crucial to that – and will no doubt be in the remainder of the campaign.

But it was a missed opportunity for the England man at Anfield as two clangers contributed hugely to his side’s defeat.

It also probably cost him the chance of staking a strong claim to start for his country again in the forthcoming internationals. With Jordan Pickford’s form erratic, Heaton had the perfect stage to shine, but usually dependable, he flopped miserably.

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