Friday 28 April 2017

Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can on target as Liverpool rally to beat Burnley

Emre Can, pictured centre, was Liverpool's match-winner against Burnley
Emre Can, pictured centre, was Liverpool's match-winner against Burnley

Liverpool consolidated fourth spot in the Premier League with a come-from-behind 2-1 home victory over Burnley.

Ashley Barnes had opened the scoring with the Clarets' first goal at Anfield since 1975 in the seventh minute, with the hosts looking short of ideas in the absence of injured forward Roberto Firmino.

But Georginio Wijnaldum equalised with the last kick of the first half and Emre Can completed the comeback just after the hour mark, as Jurgen Klopp's side went some way to eradicating the curse of the bottom-half teams.

Defeat in the reverse fixture, back in August, set the standard for the way 'lesser' sides combated the Reds' attacking style and, for 45 minutes, it appeared Sean Dyche's men were about to repeat the trick.

The result lifted Liverpool within a point of second-placed Tottenham and third-spotted Manchester City, who were both in FA Cup action this weekend.

There was none of the verve or intensity shown the previous weekend in the victory over Arsenal, with striker Divock Origi struggling in his first Premier League start for two months.

But he was not alone as the team looked devoid of ideas until Wijnaldum's intervention, the Dutchman extending his remarkable run of having scored all his Premier League goals at home (five for Liverpool, 11 for Newcastle).

Can's goal was his first in three months - a sumptuous low effort from distance - and sealed the triumph for a Liverpool team whose five league defeats have all come against opponents below 10th in the table.

Liverpool were worried by Andre Gray's pace, as early on he twice broke through but it was the brilliant pass from right-back Matthew Lowton which turned the defence and picked out Barnes to convert sliding in at the far post.

It meant Burnley had scored with their first three shots on target against Liverpool this term, and this game appeared to be following the pattern of the Turf Moor encounter when Klopp's side enjoyed 80 per cent possession but managed just two shots on target in 26 attempts.

With Origi lacking movement, physicality or the chance to run in behind, Clarets centre-backs Ben Mee and Michael Keane were enjoying a comfortable afternoon.

That was until Origi's cross picked out Wijnaldum, who reacted quickest to his first flick being blocked by Mee to fire home from close range. It was the last kick of the half and Liverpool's first shot on target of any description.

Liverpool, emulating their opponents, scored again with their next shot on target.

With few goalscoring options on the bench - veteran midfielder Lucas Leiva had more goals (seven) than the other five outfield substitutes combined - Klopp sent on 17-year-old Ben Woodburn for the ineffectual Philippe Coutinho.

But, before the youngest goalscorer in the club's history could touch the ball, Can struck just past the hour with a low, skidding shot which crept inside Tom Heaton's left post.

There was still half an hour to see out and, when Ragnar Klavan blocked a Barnes shot which appeared to have goal written all over it, it was apparent that would be a long time for the home fans.

Lowton hooked over from close range in added time, but Liverpool held on to move five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, although the Gunners have two matches in hand.

Press Association

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