Late, late show from Reds

Sadio Mane (No. 19) hitting a rising shot that left Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope with no chance of keeping out the game's opening goal. Liverpool conceded a late equaliser, but then hit back through Ragnar Klavan to win 2-1.
Sadio Mane (No. 19) hitting a rising shot that left Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope with no chance of keeping out the game's opening goal. Liverpool conceded a late equaliser, but then hit back through Ragnar Klavan to win 2-1.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klavan earns full points with last-gasp header; Mane opens scoring with rocket

LONDON • Liverpool's centre-backs conjured an unlikely win at the last. Two men who may be fearing for their place in Jurgen Klopp's plans when Virgil van Dijk is available produced a different sort of impact but they combined to deliver victory in dramatic fashion.

When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a free kick, Dejan Lovren won a header and Ragnar Klavan applied the finishing touch. Liverpool had a third consecutive win. Burnley, cruelly, were beaten.

They had seemed to have mounted a fine comeback of their own. Their doggedness was rewarded when Charlie Taylor crossed, Sam Vokes headed on and Johann Berg Gudmundsson stooped to head in.

Underdogs continued to demonstrate their bite but top dogs nevertheless prevailed. For an hour, this was one of those games that was defined by those who did not play, rather than those who did.

Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah were missing and how Liverpool missed them. They missed the Brazilian's class and craft and the Egyptian's pace and penetration.

Yet the advantage of stockpiling superb players was then apparent. Sadio Mane was the lone member of their Fab Four to start, but he scored a magnificent goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in a low cross from the right touchline. Mane controlled it, spun and unleashed an unstoppable shot.

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE


    Burnley 1

    Liverpool 2

It was only his eighth goal of a season in which he has been injured and outscored by the rest of Liverpool's Fab Four.

It was rendered harder to get a breakthrough by the absentees. Barcelona's interest in Coutinho means that, at some stage, Liverpool may have to get used to life without him.

At least they ought to be able to call upon Salah and Roberto Firmino then.

Their other Brazilian was benched and Klopp has rotated more than any other manager; seven changes took his total to 87 for the league season, 69 more than Burnley counterpart Sean Dyche.

Few are exempted from the policy, but the omissions of Coutinho and Salah were due to thigh and groin problems respectively.

Both are expected to be fit to face Everton in the FA Cup third round on Friday. So will Van Dijk, who declared himself ready to play then after his record £75 million (S$135 million) move from Southampton was formally completed.

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    TODAY

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Instead, Liverpool's defence had been indebted to an unlikely ally. Adam Lallana made a belated first start of an injury-hit year. His initial impact came deep in his own half, a perfectly timed challenge preventing a Burnley counter-attack ending in a Gudmundsson shot.

The midfielder also had a series of shots that were deflected wide but Nick Pope, who saved a fizzing effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain, was largely untested until Mane struck.

Thereafter, he had to make fine saves from Alexander-Arnold and Oxlade-Chamberlain but the excellent Pope was left helpless at the last.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Late, late show from Reds'. Print Edition | Subscribe