Liverpool is one win away from a return to the UEFA Champions League after taking care of Burnley 3-0 at Turf Moor on Wednesday.
The Reds got goals from Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Phillips, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to move level on points with now-fifth-place Leicester City. Andy Robertson had two assists.
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Liverpool holds a goal differential lead of four on the Foxes and will play at home to Crystal Palace on Championship Sunday, while Leicester would have to blow out Tottenham Hotspur.
Burnley will finish no higher than 15th, currently 17th with 39 points.
Three things we learned from Burnley – Liverpool
1. Phillips as Liverpool’s symbolic stress reliever: Nat Phillips has grown from emergency fill-in for a center back-straved Reds to a relative standout in their back line, so his thumped header being not just his first Premier Lague goal but also strengthening their top-four stock with one match left is just perfect. Phillips may not become an out-and-out star a la Virgil van Dijk or even a senior international like Joel Matip, but you can point to him as someone who helped lead Liverpool out of the dark.
2. Firmino finds a way: It may surprise you to know, given Liverpool’s relative struggles, that its 29-year-old center forward has quietly put together a nice little stat line. His ninth goal of the Premier League season combines with six assists to give him 15 goal contributions. That’s off his standards but not by much. Firmino had 9 and 8 in 38 matches last season, and 12 and 7 the year before that. Considering that he’s scored or assisted in three of the last four matches — all Liverpool wins including a brace at Manchester United — and there’s reason to high-five the big-smiling Brazilian.
3. Second goal no longer a knockout blow when Burnley’s involved: Sean Dyche knows where his bread is buttered — or road is paved — and it’s being hard as nails in the air and tough to break down everywhere else. But the comeback was not out of the question at 1-0 down or even 2-0 because Dyche’s men have been more adventurous and potent with Chris Wood in form. The Clarets only have 33 goals this season but had scored multiple goals in four of their previous eight matches, so credit to Phillips for getting the Reds some breathing room because Wood and Co. kept working for a result, as unlikely as it might’ve been.
That said, it will be interesting to see what Dyche does if funded more in the transfer market by Burnley’s new owners. The Clarets have scored 39, 36, 45, 43, and now 33 (with one match left) goals in their five PL seasons. Those are relegation totals.
Man of the Match: Nathaniel Phillips
Phillips didn’t just score the Reds’ second goal, he also had a goal line clearance in the 69th minute to keep that two-goal lead in order.
Burnley – Liverpool recap
Sadio Mane came close to a show-stopping, once-in-a-lifetime assist when he chopped a back heel across the box right onto Roberto Firmino’s foot, but the Brazilian couldn’t put the pass onto the scoresheet.
Chris Wood might’ve made Burnley the first on the board when he got the better of Rhys Williams but the Kiwi striker’s shot was not what he wanted from about 10 yards out.
Thiago Alcantara then dragged a shot just wide of the far post after a 1-2 with Mohamed Salah in the 29th minute.
But it was the same side of the box that saw Liverpool break through when Firmino latched onto Andrew Robertson’s cross before halftime.