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It’s all about the Mane: Sadio inspires Liverpool in blitz of Burton

BURTON UPON TRENT, England — The thick, gloomy clouds that covered the Lancashire sky and descended on Liverpool during its 2-0 defeat at Burnley over the weekend were replaced by a golden sunset over East Staffordshire on Tuesday night.

Jurgen Klopp had admitted his Sunday would have been "8000 percent" better had his side won at Turf Moor on Saturday but the Reds guaranteed him a blissful Wednesday by blitzing Burton Albion 5-0 in the League Cup.

Liverpool had the hosts chasing shadows for much of the game, spilling forward en masse at every opportunity.

Nigel Clough’s men started positively, intent on letting Liverpool know they were not going to be passive or pushovers. But the Reds weathered the opening minutes well and soon switched on the sparkle, with Sadio Mane their creative conductor.

The Senegal international, who sat out the loss at Burnley to nurse a minor muscle injury in his shoulder, was back in the starting XI at the Pirelli Stadium - and the difference he made was indisputable.

His ability to annihilate his marker from a standing start, his desire to drive his team on to the front foot and his appetite to be a nuisance in the box all contributed to Liverpool’s opener.

Mane left Damien McCrory for dead with a change of direction, taking the 26-year-old out of the game and playing in Divock Origi.

The Belgian causally backheeled in to the net to bring up goal number 11 of his Liverpool career. Prior to the opener, Mane had created one chance for the striker and another for Roberto Firmino, dominating the game with his relentless running at the Burton defense.

With just 15 minutes up the Reds were off the mark, and from there it was all go, go, go.

Adam Lallana headed an excellent Jordan Henderson delivery wide but Firmino would not repeat that mistake. Nathaniel Clyne sent a wicked cross into the area and the Brazilian neatly nodded in to make it two.

The amount of support in the box for both goals will please Klopp. The second had Henderson, Lallana and Origi all waiting to attack Clyne's delivery. Had Origi not converted the opener, Firmino, Lallana and Emre Can were ready to profit from Mane's fine work.

The traveling supporters sang Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" as halftime approached and considering the toxic overreaction on social media to the defeat at Burnley, it seemed a fitting choice.

Burton, as expected, tried to start the second half sharply but could not match Liverpool's quality and control.

Klopp's side continued to be a nuisance in attack, which eventually led to Tom Naylor flicking a corner into the back of his own net.

Daniel Sturridge struck twice to make it 5-0, with Mane playing a key part in the first before assisting the second with a superb solo run, but long before then it had been lights out for Burton.