Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes were boosted after a 3-0 win away to Burnley.
The Reds went into the clash at Turf Moor knowing they needed a win to keep alive their prospects of Champions League football next season and they duly obliged in a dominant performance. Goals from Roberto Firmino, Nat Phillips, and replacement Alex Oxlade Chamberlain secured the victory.
Right from the offset, it was clear that the six times European champions would commit to attack and they had their first chance after only three minutes. Sadio Mane, though, was unable to steer a cross in and cap some encouraging build-up play.
While the away team were dominant, Burnley posed an occasional threat with long, lofted balls into the channels, with Chris Wood a regular target. The New Zealander pulled onto the inexperienced Rhys Williams and pulled one such pass down, but fluffed the opportunity.
Thiago was instrumental in putting Liverpool in attacking positions with his sharp passing and vision. The Spaniard almost opened the deadlock when he played a give and go with Mohamed Salah and evaded pressure in the box before pulling a shot narrowly wide.
More chances came, but the hosts centre halves, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, were contesting every pass and putting their bodies on the line with blocks. It appeared as if Sean Dyche’s team would go into the half level, but the Reds finally made their ascendancy count near the stroke of the interval.
Neat football saw the away team advance the ball to the left-hand side and Andy Robertson played a one-two with Mane. Running onto a pass just outside the box, the Scotland international pulled a ball back for Firmino to sweep home first time.
Liverpool kept a similar tempo and mentality up in the second half and more opportunities came for Salah, who was benefiting from Firmino’s link-up play between the lines. Some last gap defending was the only thing that kept Burnley in the game, with the Reds regularly creating chances.
From one such opportunity came a corner and, after the initial effort was blocked, the away team worked a move that saw Mane dink a left-footed cross onto the head of Phillips and the Englishman powerfully nodded the effort home, doubling the advantage.
Burnley, with no real result anxiety, continued to push and probe and pepper the Liverpool defence with long balls. Barring a few half moments of nervousness, nothing trouble the rearguard of the Champions League chasing away team and they weathered the storm on each occasion, with Fabinho often providing a calming presence and hoovering up second balls.
Jurgen Klopp, noting visible fatigue, shuffled his pack late on and his first alteration made an almost immediate impression. A typically slick attack saw the ball worked to Oxlade Chamberlain and the replacement — after dummying to shoot into the far bottom corner — expertly fired a rasping shot in at the near post.
An opportunity to score a fourth came, but the excellent Charlie Taylor just about managed to prod the ball from the feet of Salah when the Egyptian was primed to shoot after a through ball on the counter attack.
In the end, it didn’t matter and the Reds go into the final day knowing that their destiny is in their own hands.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Phillips, Williams, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements; Kostas Tsimikas for Robertson, James Milner for Wijnaldum, Oxlade Chamberlain for Firmino.