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Liverpool within touching distance of ending brutal season in the best manner

Somehow, Liverpool are now within touching distance of the impossible.

Barely a month ago, Jurgen Klopp conceded his side needed close to a miracle to qualify for the Champions League, but with this gritty, sleeves-up victory at Burnley, they have given themselves a remarkable opportunity of salvaging a distinctly unremarkable season.

No one at Anfield is claiming much credit from their campaign, but if they can now rescue a top four place from it, then they will have said much about their spirit and desire, because it took plenty of both to get themselves out of the mess they dropped into.

Liverpool easily brushed aside Burnley to close in on securing a top four spot

A run of nine games without defeat means they go into the final day in the top four, and realistically, requiring victory to ensure they will once again sit at Europe’s high table next season. With their ever-changing defence, that is some achievement.

One of those long list of centre halves called into unlikely action, Nat Phillips, was heroic here, defending stoutly against Burnley’s desire to ensure Liverpool went into the top four the hard way, scoring his first goal for the club, and then clearing brilliantly from the line.

The spirit of Phillips summed up Liverpool’s response this past month, on an impressive run since their dismal home defeat by relegated Fulham in early March.

But it was the enduring class of Roberto Firmino who set up this fine victory, and see them through into a final day showdown with Leicester and Chelsea that promises fireworks.

Nat Phillips put in arguably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt
Nat Phillips put in arguably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s late third goal ensured the equation for that fight is now relatively simple. A win on the final day should do it, given they currently have a superior goal difference of four on Leicester.

Firmino was the catalyst. Before last week, he had scored 1 one in 23 matches, a sorry return for a centre forward, even one with his prodigious work rate.

Yet three goals in his last three games have changed the complexion not only of his season, but of Liverpool’s too. Suddenly, they are a team alive with possibilities again.

And oh how they needed his contribution again, on a Turf Moor night when it briefly appeared the failings of this season were being presented in one succinct cameo. Shaky defence, nervous passing, and missed chances.

Yet just before the interval Firmino gave the Reds the goal they so desperately needed, a fine one too, as Andy Robertson raced down the left to deliver a perfect assist the forward swept in at high pace on the run.

If all that sounded like one way traffic, then it was nothing of the such, with Burnley confident in attack when they got the chance to hit deep and swiftly.

Jurgen Klopp would be delighted to finish a difficult season in fourth place
Jurgen Klopp would be delighted to finish a difficult season in fourth place

Yet Phillips had the perfect solution. From a rare Liverpool corner, the Burnley defence switched off as the ball was recycled to Mane on the left. His deft delivery from the byline was powered home by the big defender with relish.

It was his first goal for the club, and may be his most important one. Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived late on to add a polish to the goal difference, with a fierce near post strike.

This was the semi final, Klopp said. Now to the final against Palace on Sunday. They won’t get a trophy from it, but with this spirit, Liverpool will get the prize they deserve.




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