Liverpool leave it late at Burnley as Mane, Klavan net in important win
BURNLEY, England -- Three points from Burnley 1-2 Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday afternoon.
1. Liverpool edge scrappy match to secure important win
It says something about this Liverpool side that they have won 7-0 more times than they have 1-0 this season. Jurgen Klopp's side, quite simply, often struggle to do things the easy way.
At Turf Moor on New Year's day, they should have secured just their second 1-0 win of the campaign, but in the end will settle for another hard-fought three points that was earned by Ragnar Klavan's last-gasp goal.
It was scrappy and unpleasant, but once again Klopp will not care as his set of players dug out a win for the second consecutive match.
Sadio Mane's superb strike on 61 minutes put Liverpool ahead until Johann Gudmundsson looked to have snatched a point for the hosts three minutes from time. But up stepped Klavan in the fourth minute of injury time to bundle the ball into the net from a dead-ball situation and strengthen Liverpool's position in the top four.
While a lot of Europe is resting their feet on a winter break, the Premier League's schedule means a number of teams are playing two games with just one day's rest in between. Liverpool and Burnley fell into that bracket much to the despair of everybody inside a rainy Turf Moor.
It was a battle of rotation vs. continuity in Lancashire, and the fresh legs just about emerged victorious.
Liverpool were in a similar situation last season, coming off less than 44 hours rest to take on a Sunderland side, with Klopp only making one change. With more options on his books this season, the Liverpool manager admitted his error in Sunderland 12 months ago by opting to make seven changes in total on Monday. Burnley made just one change.
Dominant, but numb, Liverpool struggled to create a clear-cut chance until Mane broke the deadlock. The Senegalese forward pinched the ball off the toes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the penalty area before swivelling and firing an effort into the top corner. One piece of brilliance later and Mane's work for the day was done when replaced by Roberto Firmino not long after the goal.
Had it not been for Klavan's late winner, Gudmundsson's close-range header in the 87th minute would have ensured the post-mortem focusing on the logic of taking what should have been Klopp's match-winner off the pitch. It may not have looked pretty, but Liverpool will not care in these circumstances.
2. Lallana performance a positive
With fitness an issue for Burnley to contend with, it was perhaps no surprise to see Adam Lallana flourish on just his first start of the season. Lallana's season has been blighted by injuries since preseason and had only made short substitute appearances until the start of 2018.
Playing at the tip of the Liverpool's midfield, supporting Dominic Solanke, Lallana looked fresh and attacking, albeit rusty as he blasted an effort into the stands in the opening seconds.
His energy and willingness to track back was just as important as his forward play. Midway through the first half, Gudmundsson appeared to be through on goal, only for Lallana to cover his ground and make a last-ditch, sliding intervention to the roar of Liverpool's travelling support. Had he not timed the tackle perfectly, referee Roger East would have been left with a big decision to make.
In a game starved of quality, Lallana's 86-minute contribution was a welcome one. His absence has somewhat been papered over by Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah's form so far this season. But with both ruled out injured, Lallana plugged the gap of quality as best he could.
3. Burnley's Euro ambition checked
Burnley's close to 2017 had their players and supporters dreaming of a European adventure in 2018. That, in itself, is remarkable. In a world that has not long come out of seeing Leicester City win the Premier League, more should probably be made of Burnley's standing in the league table.
They have found themselves in the dizzying heights of fourth at times this season, but now they comfortably lie seventh. That could well be enough for Europa League qualification this term if the FA Cup and League Cup are won by teams finishing in the top five.
Their performance here served as a reminder to their remarkable progression under Sean Dyche, but it ultimately still fell short. Turf Moor was the scene where a Liverpool side, who had 80 percent possession and 26 shots in total, fell 2-0 to Dyche's low-block last season. For all of the occasions Liverpool have been unable to manoeuvre round a parked bus under Klopp -- and there have been many -- that result in August 2016 is the one that stands out.
This time, however, Burnley were far more adventurous, playing a higher defensive line and looking to pounce on Liverpool's errors higher up the pitch. But having not won in their last five, Burnley need a quick return to form if they are to keep their European hopes alive, starting with a trip to Crystal Palace on Jan. 13.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.