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 By Dave Usher

Sadio Mane dreadful before fine strike helps Liverpool past Burnley

Liverpool were indebted to two unlikely heroes as Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan combined for a dramatic stoppage time winner in Monday's 2-1 win at Burnley.

Jurgen Klopp's side were a long way from their best and looked to have thrown away yet more points from a winning position after conceding a late equaliser, but the two players most under threat by the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk came up big.


Up until they gave up a soft late equaliser the biggest positive would have been the defensive performance, as Liverpool had stood strong in the face of a long ball and set-piece onslaught. Ultimately they eventually buckled, as they so often do, so the most positive thing to come from this is the result.


Even allowing for the number of changes made by Klopp the performance was extremely disjointed. The first half was especially poor, with far too many sideways passes and very little creativity. It was slightly better after the break but the fringe players who were given an opportunity did not really make the most of it.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho were left at home nursing minor injuries while other regular starters were left on the bench. Even if the result hadn't been favourable it would still have been the right thing to do. It's easy to be critical when a manager makes changes but Klopp is handling it pretty well.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Simon Mignolet, 6 -- Burnley put a lot of high balls into the box but overall Mignolet didn't have a great deal to do. The saves he made were routine and he had little chance to prevent the goal.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- One or two sloppy moments in possession but for the most part the youngster did well. It was from his cross that Sadio Mane finally broke the deadlock and he then went close himself with a tremendous long range effort that was well saved by Nick Pope.

DF Dejan Lovren, 7 -- A strong display from the Croatian who defended stoutly against the awkward Ashley Barnes. His most telling contribution came at the other end though when he produced a brilliant header that Klavan finished off to clinch the win.

DF Ragnar Klavan, 7 -- Another assured display from the Estonian, capped by that dramatic late goal. He may have felt partly culpable for Burnley's equaliser as he was beaten to a header by Sam Vokes, but he more than made up for that by being in the right place at the right time to win it.

DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- Switched to the left side for this game but it didn't faze him as he was once again strong and commanding. He did allow Johann Gudmundsson to run off the back of him to score the equalising goal, but in fairness it wasn't the easiest situation to deal with and it was not as obvious an error as the one he made at Arsenal recently.

MF Emre Can, 7 -- Not a perfect performance by any means but the German was full of effort and determination. Occasionally wayward in possession but never shied away from the physical side of the contest and it was his late surging run that led to the free-kick from which the game was won.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- Typically quiet away performance from the Dutchman who once again was the least involved of the midfield trio. It's becoming a pattern. Didn't do a great deal wrong but needs to impose himself more.

MF Adam Lallana, 6 -- The England man was making his first start of the season and was understandably not at his best. Kept the ball well and avoided giving it away as cheaply as some of his teammates did, but made little impact in the final third. His most telling contribution was a superb last ditch tackle to prevent a Burnley counter-attack in the first half.

FW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- Recovered from an underwhelming start and was much better in the second half when he had a hand in both goals and worked hard at both ends of the pitch. Almost scored late on with a powerful drive that was well saved by Pope.

FW Dominic Solanke, 5 -- A difficult game for the youngster, who struggled to make much headway against Burnley's well drilled rearguard. Some of his hold up play was good but he posed little threat. Failed to take the one opportunity that came his way.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- The Senegal man isn't in the best of form lately and quite frankly he was dreadful until he suddenly produced a stunning turn and finish to give the Reds the lead. The goal seemed to give him a lift but he was brought off soon after, probably with Friday's FA Cup clash with Everton in mind.

Sadio Mane struggled again but came up with a fine strike for Liverpool's opener.


FW Roberto Firmino, N/R -- Introduced for Mane and helped his side keep possession while also helping out defensively.

MF James Milner, N/R -- Replaced Lallana for the closing stages but had little opportunity to get involved.

DF Joel Matip, N/R -- Only on the field for a matter of seconds.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.


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