LONDON: Liverpool earned a crucial 3-1 win against relegation-threatened Burnley on Saturday to return to the Premier League summit after being briefly unseated by champions Manchester City.
The Anfield side are hunting a record-equalling 20th English top-flight title in Jurgen Klopp’s final season in charge but once again have relentless City for company at the top of the table.
Liverpool, beaten by title rivals Arsenal last week, were not at their fluent best but did enough to get over the line against Vincent Kompany’s men, who remain seven points from safety.
City, who beat Everton 2-0 at home in the early kick-off, are two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand as they chase an unprecedented fourth consecutive English top-flight title.
The Reds were gifted the lead when Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford came for a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner but missed the ball and Diogo Jota headed into an empty net for his ninth Premier League goal of the season.
But they were pegged back minutes before half-time when Dara O’Shea’s bullet header from a corner gave Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher no chance.
Liverpool were a different proposition in the second half and Luis Diaz put them back in front in the 52nd minute with a header from close range.
David Datro Fofana squandered clear chances to equalise for the visitors — Kelleher saved well from the forward minutes before Fofana curled wide of the post.
The home fans breathed a huge side of relief when Darwin Nunez headed in Harvey Elliott’s fine cross in the 79th minute to open up a two-goal lead, which ultimately proved enough to secure the three points.
Earlier, Erling Haaland scored his first goals since November as Manchester City beat Everton 2-0.
Pep Guardiola’s team were well below their best as they laboured to break down the stubborn visitors at a nervous Etihad Stadium but Haaland struck twice late in the second half.
They are his first strikes since returning from an absence of nearly two months due to a foot injury.
Guardiola’s men have won their past 10 games in all competitions but the Spaniard might be a little concerned with the way they laboured against struggling Everton.
“In the first half our body language was not good,” the City boss told the BBC. “You cannot play good football if you are not positive. You do your best when you are positive. When you start to complain and are sad it does not work.
“We talked at half time and I told them, ‘what do you expect, to come here and win 5-0? Come on. Life is tough and football is tough’.”
The result leaves Sean Dyche’s men in the relegation zone — they have not won in the Premier League since mid-December and face a fight for survival.
Their plight has been made immeasurably tougher as a result of a 10-point deduction for breaches of financial sustainability rules.
Tottenham Hotspur climbed back into the top four after Brennan Johnson fired into the roof of the net deep into stoppage time to complete an impressive comeback against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Pascal Gross scored from the penalty spot in the 17th minute after Danny Welbeck was caught by Micky van de Ven.
But Spurs were level just after the hour mark through Pape Matar Sarr, giving them the platform to chase the win.
Bottom side Sheffield United beat Luton Town 3-1 to record just their third league win of the season but remain seven points behind the home side, who are one place above the drop zone.
Brentford saw off Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 courtesy of Christian Norgaard’s first-half header and a fine team goal late in the game finished off by Ivan Toney.
Rodrigo Muniz scored twice as Fulham beat Bournemouth 3-1.
Third-placed Arsenal travel to West Ham United on Sunday while high-flying Aston Villa host Manchester United.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2024