Reds refuse to be blown off course against Burnley

James Pearce's verdict after Liverpool beat Burnley 4-2 at Anfield

Liverpool saw off a spirited Burnley performance with a 4-2 victory at Anfield in the Premier League.

Conditions were tough for both sides, but the Reds battled to take all three points and put the pressure back on Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side had extended their lead at the top of the table with victory over Watford on Saturday.

But yesterday, Liverpool cut that down to just one point again with the win against Sean Dyche's men.

Here is James Pearce's match verdict:

You learn a lot about a team on days like this.

As the rain lashed down and the wind wreaked havoc inside Anfield, Liverpool simply refused to be blown off course.

Under extreme pressure and in the face of adversity, Jurgen Klopp's side delivered to trim Manchester City's lead at the top of the Premier League table to a single point.

It would have been easy for the Reds to lose their nerve after the scandalous decision which enabled Burnley to take the lead through Ashley Westwood's corner.

But rather than feel sorry for themselves and wilt against stubborn opposition, they channelled their anger at that injustice in the best possible way .

A gutsy, spirited response transformed a nightmare start into a commanding victory.

That show of burning desire and commitment was epitomised by Adam Lallana , who emphatically grasped his chance to shine.

It's been a wretched injury-plagued two years for the Reds midfielder but here was a timely reminder about what he's capable of when fully fit. Klopp's faith was well and truly repaid .

Lallana deservedly walked away clutching the man-of-the-match award after putting in a tireless shift. He set the tone with his pressing and gave Liverpool's midfield a much needed creative spark. For those who had written him off, a slice of humble pie should be on the menu.

There's been a lot of talk about Liverpool's bottle during the wobble of recent weeks. But this performance should silence the debate.

The discipline, maturity and control which has carried the Reds this far all came to the fore. There was no hint of panic.

The frustration of Goodison was forgotten as the goals flowed once again. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane struck before the break to put Liverpool in front.

Firmino's second gave them breathing space and after Clarets substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson pulled one back, Mane had the final word in stoppage time with his 50 goal for the club.

What a season the Senegal international is having. Mane, who has now scored 17 this term, has netted in six successive home league games. Only Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Mo Salah have achieved that for the Reds in the Premier League era.

Liverpool will head to the Allianz Arena for their Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich on Wednesday night with momentum and belief restored. They are looking more potent on the counter and that's a positive sign as they chase a precious away goal.

Win at lowly Fulham next weekend – when City are preoccupied with FA Cup duty against Swansea - and Klopp's men will be top of the Premier League table for the international break.

It's no longer in the Reds' hands. After three months as the hunted, they are now the hunter, but this title race is still very much alive and kicking.

With eight games remaining, Liverpool aren't going quietly. They just need to keep taking care of their own business so that if City stumble they cash in. It promises to be a thrilling finale.

Klopp had sprung a surprise before kick-off by picking Lallana ahead of both Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri after opting to give captain Jordan Henderson a breather ahead of the trip to Germany.

The manager revealed that only a fourth league start of the season for Lallana was reward for his “exceptional” week on the training ground. Klopp's judgement proved to be spot on.

Lallana led the charge after Liverpool had fallen behind in controversial fashion inside six minutes.

The Reds didn't help themselves as Joel Matip needlessly conceded a corner but what followed was ridiculous from blundering referee Andre Marriner.

Alisson Becker's attempts to deal with Westwood's in-swinger were clearly hampered by the fact that he had James Tarkowski pushing down on his shoulder. The ball sailed over the Liverpool No 1 and nestled in the far corner.

However, to the Reds' disgust, Marriner awarded the goal and Alisson's furious protests earned him a booking. What a contrast to the helping hand City had been given by the officials with their opener against Watford 24 hours earlier.

Anfield was jolted into life. The Kop let out a defiant roar as Liverpool rolled their sleeves up and showed the stomach for a fight.

The hosts upped the tempo and started to stretch Burnley's backline. Firmino's strike was deflected narrowly over the bar after he had latched on to Salah's pass.

Liverpool soon restored parity. Lallana pinged a perfect cross-field pass into the feet of Salah, whose slick one-two with Gini Wijnaldum opened Sean Dyche's side up.

The Egypt international's low cross wasn't dealt with by Tom Heaton and Firmino gleefully helped himself to a tap-in.

The decibel levels were cranked up. Liverpool's pressing ensured there was no respite for the Clarets with Lallana and Firmino repeatedly shutting down space.

Just before the half-hour mark the Reds were in front. Lallana threw himself in the way of Phil Bardsley's attempted clearance.

The ball cannoned into the path of Salah, who was upended by Charlie Taylor. As Anfield howled for a penalty, Mane pounced and hammered home the loose ball.

The weather was about as consistent as Marriner as the sun turned to rain turned to sleet and then it brightened up again.

Lallana remained at the heart of what was best about the Reds as he found pockets of space and linked play intelligently.

The swirling wind made life difficult but in the second half Liverpool were rarely troubled. Defensive rock Virgil van Dijk was immense once again and Fabinho impressed in front of the Dutchman.

Salah, who was thwarted by a fine save from Tom Heaton late on, didn't get on the scoresheet and having gone five matches without a goal that's now the longest barren run of his Liverpool career.

However, Salah still made a telling contribution for the team. Some of his link up play with Mane and Firmino was delightful.

Midway through the second half it was 3-1. Heaton's woeful goal-kick landed at the feet of Salah. He raced through on goal before being brought down by Taylor.

With Marriner playing the advantage, Firmino followed up to double his account for the afternoon.

Henderson and Keita replaced Wijnaldum and Lallana as Liverpool cruised to victory.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was substituted as a precaution late on, should have had another assist for his collection, but Mane somehow hit the bar from three yards out.

Some slack defending enabled Gudmundsson to reduce the deficit, but the outcome wasn't in doubt.

Substitute Daniel Sturridge's classy through ball immediately sent Mane scampering clear and he went around Heaton to score.

A tricky test had been passed with flying colours with character in abundance.


Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Sturridge 86), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Henderson 68), Lallana (Keita 77), Mane, Salah, Firmino.

Not used: Mignolet, Lovren, Shaqiri, Origi.

Burnley: Heaton, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Hendrick (Gudmundsson 79), Cork, Westwood, McNeil, Barnes (Vydra 86), Wood (Crouch 79).

Not used: Lowton, Brady, Gibson, Hart.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 53,310

Goals: Westwood 6, Firmino 19, Mane 29, Firmino 67, Gudmundsson 90+1, Mane 90+3.

Bookings: Alisson, Fabinho

Man of the match: Adam Lallana. Repaid Klopp's faith in style.

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