PL REPORT: Liverpool 0 Burnley 1
Barnes the penalty hero as Clarets end 46-year wait for win at Anfield
Ashley Barnes wrote his name into Burnley’s modern-day history as he gave the Clarets their first win at Anfield since September, 1974 and ended Liverpool’s 68-match unbeaten home league run.
Ian Brennan was the last Burnley player to score a winner at Anfield.
And he was joined on the roll of honour by Barnes, whose 83rd-minute penalty made it a famous night on Merseyside and gave the striker 100 career goals.
The Clarets had denied Liverpool a 100 per cent home record in their march to the title last season with a second draw in three visits - and this time they went one better with Barnes coolly slotting home from the spot to give Sean Dyche’s men their second away win of the season.
It was the perfect way for Barnes to lift the pressure that has been mounting around the Clarets’ frontmen due to their recent lack of goals
No-one in a Clarets’ shirt has scored an away goal since early October, but it proved worth the wait as Barnes’ second goal of the campaign capped an outstanding effort from the whole Burnley side as they secured a seventh clean sheet of the season in a performance full of determination and character, which further dented Liverpool’s hopes of retaining their crown.
The Clarets brought Dwight McNeil and the fit-again Charlie Taylor back into their starting line-up to re-unite the pair on their left flank.
That meant a switch back to the right-hand side for Robbie Brady.
And it was a cross from the Irishman on that flank that almost brought the first opening for Burnley in a bright start from the visitors.
Liverpool keeper Alisson spilled the ball under pressure from Chris Wood and Barnes was able to get in a goal-bound effort which was blocked by Joel Matip.
Matip was returning to the Liverpool defence for the first time in five games in a re-jigged side sent out by Jurgen Klopp in a bid to end the Reds’ four-game winless run in the league.
The champions had scored just one goal in Liverpool’s worst run for six years and Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were both relegated to the bench, with Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Sadio Mane in the hosts’ forward line.
Both of them warmed the gloves of Nick Pope in a goalless first half but neither was a difficult save for the Burnley keeper who had made his first top-flight start on this ground three-and-a-half years ago.
Origi should have scored, though, two minutes before the break following a mistake by Ben Mee.
The Clarets’ captain and his defensive side-kick James Tarkowski had been their usual pillars of strength in an opening 45 minutes in which the Clarets had seen plenty of the ball and stretch the Liverpool back line through the re-vitalised Barnes and Wood, with Brady also having a sight of goal which ended with a low shot held by Alisson.
But when Mee mis-cued an attempted back-pass just inside his own half, Origi was left with a clear run of goal which ended with a shot he struck against the underside of the bar.
That would have been a blow given the way the Clarets had competed in a first half which ended in explosive fashion when Fabinho was shown a yellow card for a clash with Barnes – surviving a VAR check for a red – as things threatened to boil over as the sides left the pitch.
Burnley would have been looking for more of the same after the break but were forced to make an early change four minutes into the second half with Erik Pieters replacing the injured Taylor.
And after Pope had saved well from Trent Alexander-Arnold before hooking the loose ball away from Mane, Liverpool also turned to their bench, albeit by choice.
Salah and Firmino were both sent on and within minutes Salah had almost forced the break-through following a lung-busting run from Georginio Wijnaldum.
The Dutchman picked out Salah who tried to locate the bottom corner but, not for the first time down the years, he couldn’t get the better of Pope, who made a superb save low to his left.
Dyche made a switch of his own with Johann Berg Gudmundsson replacing Robbie Brady and Gudmundsson almost made an immediate impact.
The Icelander was only the width of a crossbar away from a winner in this fixture in July when the Clarets were only a whisker away from becoming the first team to win a league game at Anfield since April, 2017.
And this time he was just wide of the target with a near-post effort following excellent work from McNeil.
That was a rare foray forward as the Clarets were forced to defend for their lives in front of an inspired Pope.
But they did it magnificently to keep themselves in the contest and with seven minutes to go came the moment of magic.
Matt Lowton did well to return the ball into the penalty area and with Barnes getting there first, the striker was caught by the flailing arm of Alisson.
Barnes took the responsibility to give the Clarets one of their stand-out Premier League wins and duly slotted home one of the biggest goals of his career.
And with the Clarets' back line then holding firm for the final few minutes - Mee making a typical block to deny Firmino - the collective force lifted Dyche’s men seven points clear of the relegation places that won’t concern them with more performances like this.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Shaqiri (Minamino 84), Thiago, Wijnaldum; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Origi, Mane. Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Firmino, Salah, Jones, Tsimikas, Phillips, Williams.
Booked: Fabinho, Matip
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady (Gudmundsson 65), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Wood, Barnes. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Cork, Stephens, Rodriguez, Pieters, Bardsley, Vydra, Long.
Referee: Mike Dean