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    Liverpool 2-1 Burnley Match Report


    Liverpool kept up their pursuit of a spot in next season's Champions League as Emre Can's long-range strike on the hour-mark earned his side all three points against a resilient Burnley team.

    The visitors had taken a surprise lead after seven minutes when Ashley Barnes scored his fifth goal of the season but Georginio Wijnaldum's equaliser on the stroke of half-time helped to steer the match in Liverpool's direction.

    The Reds improved after the break, despite never hitting top gear, but were perhaps fortunate not to drop two points in the dying minutes when Matt Lowton came close to equalising for the away side.

    The result strengthens Liverpool's position in the race for a top-four finish, with five points now the gap between Jurgen Klopp's team and fifth-place Arsenal despite the North London side having two games in hand.


    Liverpool went into the match aiming to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time in the league since New Year's Eve but faced difficult opponents in Burnley, who beat The Reds 2-0 at Turf Moor in August.

    The club were still without injured trio Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge, while Divock Origi made his first start in the league for two months after Roberto Firmino had picked-up a groin strain.

    Opponents Burnley, who were chasing a first league double over Liverpool for 87 years, hadn't won at Anfield since September 1974 and had also failed to record an away win in the Premier League for 22 months.

    The Clarets welcomed back goalkeeper Tom Heaton after he missed last weekend's defeat to Swansea through illness, but the club were still without Steven Defour, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dean Marney due to injury.

    The visitors started the match as the more positive of the two sides as Andre Gray's right-wing cross narrowly failed to pick out Ashley Barnes, while Stephen Ward's delivery into the box seconds later was cut-out by Joel Matip at full-stretch.

    Burnley's bright start to proceedings was rewarded, however, when Barnes finished in clinical fashion from Matthew Lowton's pinpoint pass to give his side a shock lead after only seven minutes.


    The former Austria Under-20 international found space in-between Nathaniel Clyne and Matip in the Liverpool penalty area before producing an emphatic finish from nine yards with the outside of his right foot.

    Liverpool began to grow into the game once the visitors seemed willing to protect their lead, with Sadio Mane nearly picking out the incoming Origi inside the six-yard box with a cross that was fractionally over-hit.

    Origi did manage to get on the end of James Milner's inswinging cross three minutes before half-time, however, but Burnley defender Mee did just enough to prevent the Belgian international from making a clean contact.

    Just as the visitors looked well-positioned to head into the break with a well-deserved lead, they were undone by Liverpool's most cohesive move of the match although The Reds needed to rely on a touch of fortune in order to draw level.

    James Milner, Divoick Origi and Adam Lallana began to weave some pretty patterns inside the Burnley half with some incisive passing, which led to the Belgian picking out Georginio Wijnaldum inside the penalty area.

    Wijnaldum's initial effort, with the outside of his right foot, was blocked by Ben Mee but the ball sat up perfectly for the former Newcastle midfielder to stroke the ball past Heaton from eight yards.

     
    Burnley continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack after the break and could have retaken the lead had Barnes' left-footed cross, which was cut out by Ragnar Klavan at full-stretch, found its way to an unmarked Gray.

    With 60 minutes remaining to find a winning goal, Jurgen Klopp's response was to substitute an out-of-sorts Philippe Coutinho and introduce 17-year-old striker Ben Woodburn for his third appearance in the Premier League this season.

    Seconds after Woodburn had touched the ball for the first time, Liverpool took the lead with Emre Can scoring his first goal for the club since his strike against Bournemouth over three months ago.

    As nine Burnley defenders stood behind the ball, the German midfielder unleashed a thunderous low strike which found the bottom right-hand corner from 30 yards.


    Liverpool needed to stand firm in the face of a Burnley fightback in the final 30 minutes and it required a fully-committed block from Klavan moments later to prevent Barnes from drawing his side level from nine yards.

    Besides their two goals, The Reds failed to create many clear-cut opportunities throughout the match with their best chance to extend their narrow lead falling to Sadio Mane with only a minute remaining.

    The Senegalese international was found by Emre Can's defence-splitting pass and after taking the ball past the retreating Stephen Ward, his effort from 12 yards was tipped over the crossbar by Tom Heaton.

    Burnley began to commit more players forward in the dying minutes as they chased an elusive equaliser but Matt Lowton missed a glorious chance to claim what would have been a hard-earned point for his side.

    The full-back, who was set-up by Michael Keane's cushioned header, allowed the ball to bounce rather than striking it first-time and his eventual effort from a more acute angle ended up clearing Mignolet's crossbar.


    The final whistle was met with an outpouring of relief from the Liverpool faithful in the knowledge that their side, without reaching top form, had done enough to beat one of the Premier League's lesser lights for the first time in 2017.

    The Reds were a shadow of the side that had performed so spectacularly against Arsenal seven days earlier but had showed excellent character to win from a losing position and to defend their lead in the closing stages.

    With Roberto Firmino out injured and Philippe Coutinho ineffective, Liverpool called upon Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can to produce moments of inspiration in what was otherwise a performance lacking in tempo and creativity.

    It was nevertheless a vital win for Jurgen Klopp's side, who have narrowed the gap to second-place Tottenham and third-place Manchester City to a single point as well as stretching the gap over fifth-place Arsenal to five points.


    The club must now turn their attentions to Sunday afternoon's mouthwatering clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, where they have the chance to move two points ahead of The Sky Blues with a victory.

    Burnley, meanwhile, showed plenty of ambition throughout the match and were perhaps unlucky not to be ahead at half-time when Wijnaldum's goal in stoppage-time ultimately proved the turning point.

    Sean Dyche's team frustrated the home side for large periods, while they also possessed an attacking threat from high-quality balls into the box such as the delivery by Matt Lowton that led to Ashley Barnes' opening goal.

    The club's next objective will be to translate positive performances on the road into points, having now picked up only two draws from 14 away matches this season.

    The Clarets, who remain in 12th position, return to Premier League action on Saturday afternoon when they face bottom-club Sunderland at The Stadium Of Light.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 2-1 Burnley Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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