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Zelalem 'good enough' for Premier League

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 By PA Sport

Raheem Sterling goal enough for Liverpool at Burnley

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Raheem Sterling's second-half strike ensured Liverpool managed their first league victory in four matches despite turning in a poor performance at struggling Burnley.

This was supposed to be the match it all clicked into place for Brendan Rodgers' side, having put together a run of three decent performances which culminated in their dominance of the game if not the points against Arsenal last weekend.

Nothing could have been further from the truth even though they won 1-0. And it was Burnley who found out what their opponents recently discovered - playing well does not necessarily guarantee results.

Up until the last couple of weeks Liverpool had been neither playing well or getting results and it is high time they discovered how to get the job done.

Last year they were top of the Premier League on Christmas Day having scored twice as many goals as this season after 17 matches.

However, they lost at Manchester City on Boxing Day and by the turn of the year they were out of the top four.

They began this match in their lowest position on this day since 1992-93, when they were also 10th, and their focus was on finding a way back into the Champions League reckoning.

Their cause was not helped by injuries in the game to goalkeeper Brad Jones and Kolo Toure, the former handing the recently-dropped Simon Mignolet a route back into the team.

Such is the Belgian's reputation, however, he was routinely teased and taunted by the home crowd and not all of that was unjustified in a 75-minute performance which did little to suggest the work and analysis Rodgers claims he has been doing at their Melwood training ground has benefited him at all.

Liverpool could not assume the early control they did so completely against the Gunners but they also did not appear to be in that much trouble with Ings firing over early on after Lucas Leiva had dived into a challenge on Dean Marney and was easily side-stepped.

Ings, whose four league goals was better than anything the visitors could boast, was a threat and when Martin Skrtel came out to attack a Burnley throw and missed, the striker rammed a shot against the post with Ashley Barnes ballooning over the rebound.

That signalled the end for Jones as he was immediately substituted and it was as if Burnley sensed blood with the arrival of his out-of-form replacement.

Mignolet's every touch was jeered and the ridicule only worsened when he drilled a clearance straight into Ings and scrambled to recover.

Burnley swarmed forward with renewed encouragement: Barnes headed over, Scott Arfield's goalbound shot was prevented from creeping inside the post by the tips of Lucas' toes and both George Boyd and Marney threatened before the break.

Mignolet's only minor victory saw him come off his line sharply to beat Barnes to the ball.

By contrast Liverpool created just two chances with Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana shooting straight at Tom Heaton.

Rodgers made a second substitution at the break, sending on midfielder Emre Can to play as the third centre-back, and while his introduction could in no way be described as influential Liverpool did stem the flow of what seemed almost constant pressure.

But having failed to create anything resembling a genuine chance they took the lead out of nowhere just past the hour.

Coutinho's lob sent Sterling clear and around goalkeeper Tom Heaton, rolling a shot past Burnley's despairing defenders trying to get back.

However, the goal provided no sense of calmness or composure - mainly thanks to the unconvincing Mignolet who managed to save Arfield's angled shot with his legs having dived the wrong way anticipating a cross and then allowed a Mamadou Sakho back pass to roll out of play before he cleared it.

The welcome sight of last season's 20-goal striker Sam Vokes making his first appearance since March after a cruciate knee ligament injury was some consolation for Burnley fans.

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