Reds bounce back from early setback

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino celebrating his second and the Reds' third goal in the 4-2 victory over Burnley at Anfield yesterday. The Brazilian and teammate Sadio Mane each scored a brace to help the Reds overcome a controversial opener from th
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino celebrating his second and the Reds' third goal in the 4-2 victory over Burnley at Anfield yesterday. The Brazilian and teammate Sadio Mane each scored a brace to help the Reds overcome a controversial opener from the Clarets and narrow the gap on leaders Manchester City to a solitary point.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Burnley's controversial opener fails to derail Liverpool, who close gap on City to one point

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool 4

Burnley 2

LONDON • It would be too simplistic to say Liverpool responded to the test of nerve set by Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's team have been doing that since the first day of this enthralling Premier League season.

This was a test of nerve set by Burnley, the match officials and the elements, and they delivered on all counts to return the gap in the title race to one point yesterday.

Liverpool fell behind to a controversial early goal, but ultimately ran out comfortable 4-2 victors, thanks to a brace apiece from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

They were also indebted to consistently poor defending from Sean Dyche's team, who remain too close to the relegation zone for their own liking despite causing the title contenders problems all afternoon at a wet and windy Anfield.

The challenge for Klopp's men began before Anfield had properly roused itself for the kick-off.

Ashley Westwood swung a corner into a packed penalty box and directly into Liverpool's net.

KEEPING PACE WITH CITY

At 3-1 up, all the balls Burnley got were from us. I'm completely happy with the performance, especially against Burnley. Nobody gets rid of us.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on his team's come-from-behind victory after Burnley's controversial opening goal.

The small pocket of Burnley supporters erupted and so did Alisson, who was unable to leap, having been sandwiched between Jack Cork and James Tarkowski. The Reds waited for referee Andre Marriner to penalise a clear foul, but he instead sent the Brazil goalkeeper into the notebook for dissent.

It was a bad call against Klopp's team although it gave them 84 minutes to channel their grievance in the most appropriate way.

Burnley helped them along the way with several defensive lapses that squandered the major decision in their favour, with Tom Heaton the chief culprit on an afternoon to forget for the England goalkeeper.

The hosts levelled when he failed to intercept Mohamed Salah's low cross and Firmino gratefully converted the gift at close range for his 10th league goal of the campaign.

Klopp's men benefited from another error to edge ahead, with Jeff Hendrick the culprit this time.

He played Phil Bardsley into trouble and Adam Lallana blocked the full-back's clearance, diverting it to Salah inside the box. The ball then broke for Mane, who curled a fine finish to overturn Burnley's controversial advantage.

Lallana's inclusion ahead of Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita was met with scepticism before the start of the game, but he provided the creativity that Liverpool's midfield has lacked in recent away fixtures.

It was his ball to Salah, who failed to score for the fifth consecutive game, that enabled the latter to subsequently cross for Firmino's equaliser and his challenge on Bardsley was also a key moment.

The cushion of a third goal came in the second half courtesy of another mistake from Heaton after his weak kick found Salah, who raced through on goal only to be halted by Charlie Taylor's precise tackle.

The left-back, however, could only steer the ball to Firmino, who prodded home his second.

It could have been a nervous finale when substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson netted, but the Clarets' hopes of a dramatic recovery were dashed when substitute Daniel Sturridge released Mane to stroke home in added time.

Klopp felt his surprise decision to name Lallana in his line-up was vindicated as he "played a really good game" before insisting that Burnley's opener should not have stood.

The German said: "The first goal in a lot of countries would have been disallowed.

"That never helps, but it was early so that's good. We kept as calm as possible, we forced the goals with two brilliant moments of football and defended with passion.

"When it was 3-1, we did not finish it off and it was not cool. But then, we score a fourth and it's all good."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2019, with the headline 'Reds bounce back from early setback'. Print Edition | Subscribe