Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Sadio Mane joins exclusive club as Liverpool's front three sparkle to maintain title challenge

Goals for Mane and Firmino, and a fine display from Salah led Klopp's side to a crucial three points over a stubborn Burnley team

Sadio Mane, right, scored the second and third Liverpool goals in the 4-2 win over Burnley. Reuters
Sadio Mane, right, scored the second and third Liverpool goals in the 4-2 win over Burnley. Reuters

It represented a rather illustrious club.

To Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah add Sadio Mane.

A double against Burnley on Sunday not only guided Liverpool to three valuable points in the race for the title, but it made the Senegalese only the fifth home player to score in six consecutive Premier League matches at Anfield.

Mane took his tally for the club to 50 goals. He should have had another and with it a hat-trick, but he struck the crossbar, almost inexplicably, from three yards out.

Nevertheless, Mane was a match-winner. He ensured Liverpool entered halt-time with the lead, having turned around a one-goal deficit to hold a 2-1 advantage. The finish was a wonderful curling effort that crashed into the net. No doubt, it settled nerves on a potentially tense mid-Sunday struggle.

Mane later wrapped up the points, deep into injury-time, moments after Burnley had halved the hosts’ lead. Suddenly, a completely improbable comeback seemed momentarily plausible.

But the most recent Kop king made safe the victory. He also helped lifted the burden somewhat on the Egyptian whose crown has slipped, however slightly. In drawing another personal blank, Salah stretched an unwanted sequence to five matches.

He has a solitary goal in eight appearances. After 30 Premier League rounds last season, the forward had struck 24 times. He would add another eight to secure the Golden Boot, a haul that secured player-of-the-year honours, too. At the same stage this campaign, Salah has 17.

On Sunday, again chances slipped by. Again, he looked hesitant and hurried in front of goal. Yet the failure to find the net masked an otherwise lively display. Salah was energetic and elusive, a constant threat to the Burnley backline.

He created Liverpool’s equaliser, converted by Roberto Firmino, was involved in Mane’s first and the Brazilian's second. Two of that vaunted front three got on the scoresheet. The odd one out, Salah was anointed man of the match by his manager.

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Premier League team of the week:

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“Today, Mo Salah for me was the best player on the pitch and he didn't score,” Jurgen Klopp said. “I am not sure you will see that in a lot of ratings, because he's a striker and he didn't score, but we have no problem with confidence. We are in a good moment.”

There do appear to be now. Liverpool had failed to score in three of their previous four matches. Extrapolate their form, and they had drawn five of their past seven.

Lately, Klopp railed against accusations that pressure had pinched his side. Having been in pole position to land a first top-flight title in 29 years, they fell behind Manchester City as the race for the trophy entered the home straight.

However, there promises to be twists and turns to come. That despite the extraordinary clip thus far. Victory against Burnley carried Liverpool back to a point from City, but also to within two of their tally for the whole of last season. Only twice before has the club amassed 73 points from 30 league matches.

They have to still host Tottenham and Chelsea. City, chasing a quadruple, welcome Spurs to the Etihad and must travel to Old Trafford, in the space of four days from April 20. That week will surely be crucial.

For Liverpool, after negotiating a burly Burnley, Mane and Firmino are once more firing. The hope will be that, should Salah rediscover his Midas touch, it could prove decisive.

Updated: March 11, 2019 02:12 PM

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