Liverpool character shines through in Burnley battle to extend unbeaten streak

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The Reds have recorded consecutive battling, vital victories to extend their unbeaten run to 16 games and shovel pressure on their top-four rivals

If the absurdity of playing twice in 48 hours wasn’t enough, the final seven minutes at Turf Moor was an overflow of the preposterous.

Liverpool, defending a 1-0 lead wondrously secured by Sadio Mane, allowed Johann Berg Gudmundsson to head in without attention at the back post with regulation time almost up.

Liverpool Burnley

Just when it seemed that Jurgen Klopp would need to reflect on another case of ceding points from a winning position, the unexpected occurred.

Virgil van Dijk has been the defensive headline-spinner this week, but on New Year’s Day, it was Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan that combined to alter the narrative at Burnley.

With ’94 flashing on the scoreboard, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s lofted free-kick was headed across goal by the Croatian, with his partner arriving at the far post to nod in.

The celebrations were as immense as a result that extended Liverpool’s unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions; their longest such streak under Klopp.

Vitally, it was the second consecutive fixture in which the Reds had to battle rather than blitz their way to victory having overcome Leicester City 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

Sadio Mane Liverpool Burnley

The Merseysiders have long proven they can dazzle, but they are importantly now showing they can dig in too - regardless of rotation, the exertion of a relentless schedule and the best efforts of the opposition.

“We were the lucky side, but as I said I am really happy about attitude, character and all that stuff – you need to win your average games, you need to win with your attitude on your not 100 per cent best days,” Klopp reflected afterwards.

“Character-wise we were at 100 per cent, performance-wise I’ve seen us already playing better football … but who cares?

“We didn’t have too many of these wins. If you’ve watched us a few times this year, you’ll know that in all of the draws we would have pretty much deserved to win more than tonight.

“That’s how it is. You need to do that to be successful and to stay in this region where we are - you need the wins on the not sunny days. It feels really brilliant, it was a fantastic moment when we scored.”

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Klopp made seven changes against a fine-tuned, testing Burnley side that fully deserve their success this season with Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah missing through minor thigh and groin issues respectively.

Yet, in unfancied circumstances, the visitors still boxed off the result they were after.

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Given the exacting challenge to secure a top-four finish again this season with Arsenal and Tottenham currently outside the Champions League places with Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool behind a record-breaking Manchester City side, it is afternoons like these that become decisive.

The reaction of the players and the manager on Monday revealed as much.

If Liverpool can continue this trend of edging close encounters to sit alongside their ability to pulverise teams, the pressure will continue to fall on those in proximity to them. 

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