LONDON (Reuters) – Two goals each for Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane helped Liverpool to keep in touch with Premier League leaders Manchester City with a 4-2 win over lowly Burnley at Anfield yesterday.
Juergen Klopp’s side move to 73 points, one behind City. Both teams have eight games remaining.
The visitors took a surprise lead in the sixth minute, with Ashley Westwood scoring direct from a corner although Burnley’s James Tarkowski looked to have impeded Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker.
Liverpool drew level when Tarkowski and Clarets keeper Tom Heaton made a mess of a low cross from Mohamed Salah and Firmino was left with the simplest of tap-ins.
Sadio Mane then put Liverpool ahead with a fine, curling finish after a poor clearance from Jeff Hendrick was blocked by Adam Lallana.
Burnley started the second half well but the outcome was put beyond doubt in the 67th minute when Heaton poorly kicked straight to Salah, the Egyptian bursting into the area, and Charlie Taylor’s sliding tackle fell kindly to Firmino who made no mistake.
Substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson pulled back a goal in stoppage time for 17th-placed Burnley who remain two points above the relegation zone but then Mane added a fourth to make sure of the three points.
On Saturday, Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Watford lifted the champions at the top of the Premier League after Tottenham Hotspur’s challenge faltered again with a 2-1 loss at Southampton.
On a landmark day for England strikers, with Harry Kane scoring his 200th goal for clubs and country in Spurs’ defeat and Jamie Vardy notching his 100th and 101st for Leicester City in their 3-1 win over Fulham, Sterling took pride of place.
City, still on course to lift four different trophies, took advantage of Sterling being awarded a contentious goal just after halftime before he struck a minute later and completed his treble in the space of 13 minutes.
Gerard Deulofeu pulled one back within 17 seconds of being brought on as a substitute but Pep Guardiola’s men never looked threatened as they moved on to 74 points from 30 games.
Sterling’s opening goal following a goalless first half was awarded after originally being ruled out for offside.
A long discussion between referee Paul Tierney and his assistant saw the decision reversed with Sterling ruled to have been played onside by Watford’s Daryl Janmaat, whose challenge saw the ball ricochet off the striker’s leg into the net.
Yet if the opener was debatable, there was no argument about the other two as Sterling made it 15 league goals for the season.
“It’s a massive win,” Sterling told the BBC. “In my head, I am hoping and praying (that the first goal would be awarded). I was hoping my goal didn’t get cancelled out. We got it and it kick started our game.”
England captain Kane’s first-half milestone was eclipsed as third-placed Spurs squandered a lead in a game they were dominating, prompting criticism of his players by manager Mauricio Pochettino.
On an unhappy return to his old St Mary’s stamping ground, Pochettino, serving the first of a two-match touchline ban, could hardly credit how his side capitulated to two late goals in five minutes from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse.
Now without a win in their last four league games, it left the Argentine fuming.
“It is difficult to understand why we changed so much from the first half to the second. We did not take the second half seriously,” Pochettino said.
Ward-Prowse’s stunning free-kick winner left Spurs on 61 points, 13 behind Man City. The win also dented Spurs’ hopes in an ever-tighter top-four battle for Champions League places.