Burnley 0 Liverpool 3: Reds win to ensure top four race with Chelsea and Leicester goes down to final day
JUST AS THE CHEQUERED flag in the race for the Champions League places is about to fall, Liverpool comes racing through.
They are now in pole position to nick one of those spots having overtaken Leicester on the penultimate corner.
The two are level on points but those in the red livery have a goal difference that is four better.
Chelsea are a point ahead of both in third ahead of what will be the biggestbit of intrigue in the top flight on the final day.
This had all looked a forlorn hope at one stage for Liverpool as the formally formidable red machine spluttered it’s way through a woeful title defence.
A run of six defeats in seven games through February and early March had the supporters of their biggest rivals rubbing their hands in glee.
With ten games left of the season they stood eighth, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and ten behind Leicester in third.
But they have slipped through the gears and released the turbos with a run of seven wins and two draws to be within touching distance of ensuring they stay with Europe’s elite.
And I don’t mean in a Super League.
Indeed it is scenarios like the one next Sunday that Chelsea and Liverpool would have denied us in the future had their owners had their way.
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The way goalkeeper Alisson’s incredible last gasp winner in their previous game against West Brom was celebrated by Klopp and his bench showed how much this race means once the title has gone.
There were more celebrations last night when Roberto Firmino broke the deadlock just before the break and then Nat Phillips headed home the second seven minutes into the second period.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to complete the scoring with a minute left.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers will have watched it all unfold on TV through his fingers.
You can’t help but feel for the Foxes if they miss out on the final day again as they did last season.
That really would take the shine of the FA Cup they picked up last Saturday.
But it was clear from early on that Burnley were not good enough to do them any favours and this would be Liverpool’s night.
They were, however guilty of being wasteful early on.
All of the front three; Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Firmino were guilty.
Firmino was first up screwing a shot wide after a clever back heel from Mane had set him up eight yards out.
Thiago played a neat one-two with Salah only to pull his low shot well past the far post.
You don’t expect Salah to join in with all this. He is currently level on 22 Premier League goals with Harry Kane in the race for the golden boot.
But it was a golden chance he blazed over after being put through by a great long ball from the back by Robertson.
It was catching all over the pitch with Phillips firing high into the mocking Burnley fans behind the goal after Rhys Williams had chested a header into his path.
The breakthrough finally came as the Burnley defence took their eye off Firmino for a second, two minutes before half-time and this time he made them pay.
Mane played the ball down the line for Robertson to deliver a great ball into a pocket of space in the centre of the Burnley area. Firmino steamed in to meet it with a powerful shot that goalkeeper Will Norris got his hand to but could not keep out.
Burnley had their chances in the first period too most notably when Chris Wood was put through on an angle but lashed a shot into the side netting.
Dwight McNeil also had a thunderous low shot well saved.
But Liverpool asserted their dominance with the second on 52 minutes.
Mane did superbly well from tight on the byline to stab a cross over and Phillips powered a header home.
Burnley tried to rally and James Tarkowski had a header nodded off the line by Phillips, a hero now at both ends of the pitch.
Liverpool weren’t going to let this slide and late substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain showed some great close control in the area before firing into the near bottom corner.
Klopp said ahead of this game that to get in the top four this season would be one of his greatest achievements.
That rings a bell, didn’t Mourinho say that when Manchester United finished second in 2017-18.
Just shows you what being in the Champions League means, much more than a free pass to any Super League.
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