Liverpool’s week has been defined by a centre-back. It was not Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan but two men who could be reduced to the rank of spectators when Virgil van Dijk is available contrived to combine to procure a dramatic victory.
When Emre Can chipped a free-kick into the penalty area four minutes into added time, Lovren leapt highest to meet it. His header may have been going in.
Klavan made sure, thrusting himself forward to apply the last touch and secure a third consecutive win for Liverpool. They are now six points clear of fifth-place Arsenal.
Their attacking interventions compensated for Liverpool’s failure to keep a clean sheet. One goal often suffices for victory at Burnley and it felt as though it would for Jürgen Klopp’s team when Sadio Mané struck in spectacular fashion.
Then Burnley intervened. Charlie Taylor delivered a cross, Sam Vokes flicked it on and Johann Berg Gudmundsson headed in a leveller.
It brought a remarkable conclusion to what had begun as a dull game, one that was enlivened by the lone member of Liverpool’s supposedly “Fab Four” to start. If Mané had been the least fabulous member of the band, he prospered as a solo artist with a sweet hit.
Mané has been upstaged by Mohamed Salah this season, the Egyptian taking on the mantle of the prolific, electric winger. Yet there have been glimpses of the Senegalese’s virtuosity such as his backheel set up Salah’s leveller against Leicester on Saturday. This was another instance of excellence at a pivotal moment.
Salah and Philippe Coutinho were sidelined, a thigh problem accounted for his absence. Both could be available for Friday’s FA Cup tie with Everton at Anfield. Van Dijk definitely will be.
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