Can seals comeback win to maintain Liverpool's top four push
REUTERS - Liverpool kept their push for a top-four finish in the Premier League on course as Emre Can thundered home a second-half winner to complete a hard-earned 2-1 comeback win over Burnley at a relieved Anfield on Sunday.
Juergen Klopp's side were again out of sorts but he was pleased with the way they won "ugly" to earn their first back-to-back league wins this year and keep up the pressure on the league's leading trio.
While nowhere near their scintillating best, typifying the Merseysiders' uneven form of 2017, Liverpool displayed real character to strike back after going behind to an Ashley Barnes goal after seven minutes.
With the league's worst travellers Burnley dreaming of their first away win of the season, the out-of-sorts Reds were grateful to equalise just before halftime through their first shot on target from Georginio Wijnaldum.
Liverpool looked short of ideas before German international Can produced what Klopp called a "wonderful" goal from seemingly nowhere just after the hour mark, bending his low 25-metre strike into the bottom corner past a despairing Tom Heaton.
The victory gives Liverpool 55 points, a point behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in third and 11 adrift of leaders Chelsea.
The top three all have a game in hand over the Reds, who now lead fifth-placed Arsenal by five points albeit having played two games more than Arsene Wenger's side.
"The result is massive for us -- it's the first ugly game we have won," a delighted Klopp told Sky Sports. "It was intense and we had to fight.
"It is clear we have to do a few things better. We were not at our absolute best but we fought. I liked it. It is this kind of game we haven't won until now."
Liverpool followed a handsome home win over Arsenal with a dismal first-half display that left Anfield strangely quiet, especially when Barnes stretched to finish superbly with the outside of his right foot from Matt Lowton's defence-slicing through ball.
Liverpool levelled with their first shot on target during first-half stoppage time, a coolly converted volley from Wijnaldum after the ball sat up for him as Burnley's rearguard failed to deal with a cross from the left.
Klopp brought off playmaker Philippe Coutinho just before Can delivered his piece of inspiration when given room to shoot from distance. "We had some moments... it was a wonderful goal from Emre Can," Klopp enthused.
Still, Liverpool had to hold on a mite nervously towards the finish as the home crowd feared that, as has become a bit of a habit, they might slip up against a side they were expected to beat comfortably.
Burnley never gave up, seeking to earn only their third point away from home all season, and manager Sean Dyche looked agonised when Lowton blazed a late chance over the bar.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris)