Liverpool reclaimed top spot in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Burnley at Anfield on Saturday, but they were made to battle hard by a brave visiting side.
Liverpool are on 54 points, two clear of Manchester City, who have a game in hand. Burnley remained second bottom on 13 points.
Goals from Dioga Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez saw off a Burnley side which had gone in level at the break thanks to Dara O’Shea’s goal.
Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Everton had lifted Pep Guardiola’s side one point ahead in the table, and a packed Anfield expected a blistering start from the home side.
Instead, the stadium record attendance for a league game of 59,896 saw Burnley pose the greatest early threat as Liverpool struggled to find a foothold.
“I can really imagine how Vincent Kompany is feeling right now because they did a lot of good stuff and made it really uncomfortable for us,” Juergen Klopp told Sky Sports.
Klopp had to make do without keeper Alisson and defender Joe Gomez, both out with flu, and the suspended Ibrahima Konate.
Andy Robertson made his first start since October and Wataru Endo was straight back into the team following Asian Cup duty with Japan as Caoimhin Kelleher filled in between the posts.
Kelleher was called into action early, coming out to block an effort from Zeki Amdouni as Burnley created the early danger.
Liverpool began to grow into the game but had little to show for their efforts until Burnley keeper James Trafford’s error at a corner.
Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped the corner in and Trafford came out to claim it but got nowhere near the ball and Jota had an easy header to give Liverpool the lead in the 31st minute.
Burnley never gave up, and in the 45th minute O’Shea directed a powerful header from a corner beyond Kelleher into the top corner for his first Premier League goal.
Liverpool came out with renewed energy and retook the lead within seven minutes.
Harvey Elliot, a halftime substitute, played a ball across goal which took a deflection before Diaz dived in with a header from close range.
“We knew at halftime what we had to do. We were in control but of course we had to change Trent Alexander-Arnold and are short on defenders,” Klopp said.
“Curtis Jones did incredibly well, like Harvey Elliott did when he came on.”
Burnley had chances to draw level again, but Kelleher made a fine save from David Fofana in a one-on-one situation, with Wilson Odobert blasting the rebound wide.
Fofana was through again but with only the keeper to beat he pulled his curling effort just wide of the post.
“Burnley gave problems and we had to score at the right moments. We needed Kelleher as it was a really good game for him,” Klopp told BBC.
With 11 minutes to play, Liverpool wrapped up all three points. Another corner fell to Jota but after his shot was blocked he passed to Elliot and his floated ball found Nunez who leaned back and headed into the bottom corner.
There was no way back for Burnley, and Liverpool could have had another in added time but Trafford saved a close-range effort when Nunez should have done better.