Liverpool responded to the challenge laid down by Manchester City by coming from behind in testing circumstances to beat Burnley 4-2.
The gap to the Premier League leaders was reduced back to one point as Jurgen Klopp’s side overcame Ashley Westwood’s controversial first goal for the club.
Key to the win was Adam Lallana, not the most popular choice among fans to replace Jordan Henderson in midfield, who on only his fifth start of the season had a hand in the first two goals for Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
GET IN THERE!!
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 10, 2019
Firmino and Mane also scored in the second half, with Mane’s the last kick of the game seconds after substitute Johan Berg Gudmundsson had scored an added-time goal for the Clarets.
With high winds and occasional driving rain battering Anfield it was made for a day of potential slip-ups and there were barely six minutes gone when the setback came.
Joel Matip’s poor, misdirected header gave Burnley a corner they barely deserved and they gratefully accepted that gift and the subsequent one from referee Andre Marriner.
Alisson Becker tried to leap to catch Westwood’s inswinging corner but with James Tarkowski using the Brazilian’s shoulders for leverage he failed to get off the ground and the ball dropped inside the far post.
It was Westwood’s first in the Premier League since scoring for Aston Villa in April 2016.
Complaints from numerous Liverpool players fell on deaf ears and to add insult to injury Alisson was booked for running 40 yards to complain to the official.
Job done ✅ pic.twitter.com/2As8iACBWq
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 10, 2019
The sense of injustice was, actually, what the hosts needed to light a fire on a slow-burning midday kick-off hugely affected by buffeting high winds and sudden, torrential downpours.
Lallana started to pull the strings in midfield with Firmino, the other change from last weekend’s goalless Merseyside derby, leading the forward press.
Firmino’s first sight of goal bounced up and over the crossbar off Tarkowski but the Burnley defender inadvertently had a hand in the equaliser moments later.
Lallana’s superb crossfield ball picked out Mohamed Salah, who beat his two markers and exchanged a pass with Georginio Wijnaldum with goalkeeper Tom Heaton making a mess of the cross, palming it onto Tarkowski to allow Firmino to tap home from a yard.
Liverpool’s defence has been praised for conceding only 16 goals this season but they are also the first team to have three players reach double figures for Premier League goals thanks to Firmino’s 10th of the campaign.
Lallana was determined to make the most of a rare start and it was his sliding block on the edge of Burnley’s penalty area which forced the ball towards Mane.
Charlie Taylor got there a fraction earlier but Mane pounced to curl home a first-time shot to score for the sixth succession home Premier League match – a feat only achieved by Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah.
Wijnaldum nipped in front of Mane but wastefully headed Andy Robertson’s cross wide just past the hour but the third goal was not long in coming.
A terrible goal-kick from Heaton went straight to Salah and although he was brought down in the area Firmino rammed home the loose ball.
Mane should have put the finishing touches on victory but somehow hit the crossbar from three yards from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross with Salah, still searching for his 50th league goal for the club, denied by Heaton.
Gudmundsson struck in added time but any hope of forcing a draw were ended by Mane rounding Heaton and scoring into the empty Kop goal second later.