LIVERPOOL – Jurgen Klopp warned title rivals Manchester City that Liverpool will not give up their title bid quietly after a 4-2 victory over Burnley cut Pep Guardiola’s lead at the top of the Premier League to a single point.
Liverpool responded impressively to City’s win against Watford on Saturday, rallying strongly after falling behind to a controversial opening goal from Burnley, with two goals each from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
And the German manager, whose side visit Bayern Munich in their Champions League last-16 second leg tie on Wednesday, insisted that the performance demonstrated his team’s ability to handle the pressure.
“The message from today is that nobody gets rid of us,” said Klopp. “We had the perfect mixture of fighting the opponent and playing football.
“All we have to do is make sure that we stay in this really interesting competition on top of the table. We have no problem with confidence, we’re in a good moment.”
The victory was also a triumph for Adam Lallana, the England midfielder whose inclusion in the starting line-up was not universally popular among Liverpool supporters but who turned in a man-of-the-match display.
Lallana changed the momentum of the game just before the half-hour, charging down a poor clearance from Phil Bardsley and seeing Mohamed Salah tackled by Charlie Taylor before the ball broke kindly to Mane, who curled in from 15 yards.
“It is not only Adam but it was clear, if he can play like he trained, then he will help us a lot and that is exactly how it happened,” said Klopp.
“He is always good on the ball but he is an aggressive boy. The counter press is a game-changer. It didn’t look really promising until he jumped in so well done, really pleased for him.”
It was a strong response from Liverpool after they fell behind against Sean Dyche’s struggling team in the sixth minute.
Defender Joel Matip needlessly conceded a corner which Ashley Westwood curled directly into the Liverpool goal with keeper Alisson Becker protesting furiously that he had been impeded, earning a booking for sprinting 40 yards to remonstrate with referee Andre Marriner.
“The early goal we conceded, usually it would have been disallowed if the ref had a view,” said Klopp. “I saw the first minute it is a foul, you cannot treat the goalie like this. The good thing is it is early, we had time to turn it around.”
This was a real test of Liverpool’s mental fortitude after a run that had seen them draw five of their previous seven games in the league and Champions League but a test they passed impressively.
They trailed for just 13 minutes, equalising with a flowing move started when Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum exchanged passes, the former crossed and, after Tom Heaton and James Tarkowski missed the ball, Firmino was able to tap into an open net.
After taking a 2-1 lead into the interval, courtesy of Mane’s goal, Liverpool effectively killed off the game midway through the second half.
Salah broke clear and was poised to shoot when Taylor made a superb tackle which, unfortunately for the visitors, left the loose ball sitting up nicely for Firmino to drive it into an open goal.
There was late anxiety after Johann Berg Gudmundsson made it 3-2 with an injury-time consolation after a knock-down in the area from Burnley substitute Peter Crouch.
But with virtually the last kick of the game, in the 93rd minute, Mane chased a long Daniel Sturridge through ball, rounded Heaton and completed the victory, kicking into the open goal.AFP