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Liverpool left deflated as Burnley end Premier League champions’ long unbeaten home run

Melissa Reddy
·4 min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After 1369 days and 68 games, Liverpool’s unbeaten league record at Anfield fell in a 1-0 defeat to Burnley as their streak without scoring in the division stretched to four games on the spin for the first time since the 1999/00 season.

Ashley Barnes needed no invitation to go down with time ticking out as Alisson, making minimal contact, raced off his line and slid in.

The forward converted the penalty with 83’ on the clock to compound Liverpool’s wretched run of form and remove their air of invincibility at Anfield.

Another attacking performance that had more plays out of desperation than incisiveness was not aided by Nick Pope’s decisive display between the sticks when they did break through.

READ MORE: Premier League table and fixtures – all games by date and kick-off time

Sean Dyche’s obstructors-in-chief were probably the last opponents the champions would have opted for on Thursday night given their misery in front of goal.

As defensive light finally greeted Liverpool with Joel Matip returning to the starting line-up and deputy left-back Kostas Tsimikas among the substitutes, there was further injury darkness.

Captain Jordan Henderson, who had filled in at the heart of defence, was missing with a groin issue.

In an effort to share the workload and refresh an XI that failed to score in their last three league matches, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi were introduced for the rested Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Having scored with seven of their 14 shots against Crystal Palace, ahead of kick-off Liverpool had netted just one goal from 62 attempts in their last four top-flight fixtures, a conversion rate of 1.6 per cent.

An aggressive start in possession was required to remedy that trend, however, it told the story of the first half that the greatest entertainment didn’t arrive in the final third, but during a tunnel row between Jurgen Klopp and Dyche heading into the break.

As that materialised, caught briefly by the cameras, it all kicked off on the pitch following a tussle involving Fabinho and Barnes.

A Fabinho challenge just before half-time led to a coming-together between both sets of playersGetty Images
A Fabinho challenge just before half-time led to a coming-together between both sets of playersGetty Images

Shoving, swearing and both sides protesting to referee Mike Dean formed part of the chaos, and amid it, nothing came of a VAR check for a possible red card against the Brazil international.

The opening 45 consisted largely of Liverpool shooting from distance and being frustrated into making poor decisions.

Pope was worked early on when he produced a fine reaction save to thwart Sadio Mane’s header from a corner. As the ball pinged in the box, and under pressure from Fabinho, the visiting goalkeeper tipped the danger away.

At the other end, Alisson dropped his catch, with Chris Wood making the Brazilian’s life difficult. The loose ball dropped to Barnes on the edge of the box and he cracked a shot that Liverpool’s No. 1 superbly recovered to block.

After speculative hits by Xherdan Shaqiri and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the hosts engaged in fine build-up play via a slick one-two between Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago.

From the left, Thiago switched play with a curler towards Trent Alexander-Arnold and the right-back directed the ball low and hard into the centre of the box, where Origi was waiting to connect. Ben Mee excellently averted that situation by hooking away.

The close of the half brought a contrasting scene. Mee air-swiped at the ball and was the last man for Burnley, which invited Origi to dart clear.

Facing Pope one-on-one, he sidefooted past the keeper, but his rising strike cannoned off the woodwork.

Divock Origi missed a fantastic one-on-one chancePOOL/AFP via Getty Images
Divock Origi missed a fantastic one-on-one chancePOOL/AFP via Getty Images

On 56 minutes, Firmino and Salah swapped in for Origi and Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the Egyptian having an immediate impact.

Wijnaldum, sporting the armband, weaved an intelligent diagonal run to the edge of the box.

He supplied the ball to Salah, who targeted the bottom right but was denied as Pope clawed the effort away.

Liverpool worked half-chances and wanted a penalty when Alexander-Arnold’s cross hit Erik Pieters on the arm, but neither Dean nor VAR budged.

The spot-kick was awarded at the other end after Barnes stormed past Fabinho, forcing Alisson to rush out and intervene.

There was an Alexander-Arnold shot low from the right that found Firmino, who flicked towards goal, but the ball deflected off Mee and Liverpool were left deflated.

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