Brilliant Burnley did what no other Premier League side has managed this season as they stopped the champions in their tracks.
No other team had taken a point at Anfield this season in a triumphant march to the title by the all-conquering Merseysiders.
But the Clarets are no ordinary outfit at the moment and Jay Rodriguez’s fantastic second-half equaliser denied Liverpool their perfect record and inched Sean Dyche’s men a priceless point closer to possible European football.
Rodriguez’s 11th goal of the season and third in four games extended Burnley’s own unbeaten run to five games as they produced an inspired second-half performance to hit back from a goal down following first-half heroics from goalkeeper Nick Pope.
And only the width of the crossbar denied substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson a dramatic late winner as the Clarets – beaten just once in 13 top-flight games – ripped up the script and kept their own special story alive with three games left to try and grab a Euro slot.
The Clarets made one change to their starting line-up as they looked to re-write some daunting Anfield history and prevent the Reds adding to their own.
Top scorer Chris Wood returned to start his first game since lockdown in place of Matej Vydra with Burnley seeking a first win at Liverpool in 13 attempts stretching back to 1974.
Liverpool were hunting a 25th successive home league win and 18th in a row in this title-winning season of near perfection which also had them chasing Manchester City’s record points’ haul of 100.
And Jurgen Klopp’s side was the one which most likely to achieve their goal in a dominant first half which thankfully for the Clarets – and largely down to the efforts of Pope – yielded only one goal.
Since their opening night defeat at Manchester City, Burnley had barely taken a false step in taking 10 points from four games to ignite a challenge for possible European football.
But the snap of those performances was missing as they made life too comfortable for the champions, who would have been more firmly in control but for Pope.
The England international – whose first top-flight start came at Anfield three years ago when he also helped secure a 1-1 draw – led Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson by one clean sheet ahead of kick-off in the battle to win the league’s golden glove.
And he again underlined why he’s one of the best in the business with a trio of top-class saves before the break to keep his side in the contest.
He warmed up with a fairly regulation effort to keep out a Curtis Jones shot after a dummy from Roberto Firmino had given the midfielder a sight of goal on his Premier League debut.
But the next two stops to deny Salah were superb and he got Burnley past the half-hour mark before they went behind through the unlikely figure of Robertson as the full-back met Fabinho’s nicely flighted cross with a superb header into the top corner.
The Clarets’ response was impressive as they had their best two chances of the half, Robertson blotting his copybook with a poor pass which allowed Dwight McNeil an effort that was blocked and Rodriguez pulling an effort badly wide following Ashley Westwood’s ball over the top.
But it still needed Pope’s best save yet in stoppage time to keep the deficit at one as he flew to his right to keep a Sadio Mane shot out of the same top corner Robertson had located to claim only the fourth goal of his Liverpool career.
The break did little to stem Liverpool’s flow with Firmino hitting a post and Jones spurning another chance within five minutes of the re-start.
But while there was just one goal in it the Clarets weren’t without hope and a decent spell around the hour mark gave the visitors renewed optimism with the lively Rodriguez causing problems and at least forcing Allison into action with a curling effort from outside the box.
With 25 minutes to, Dyche freshened things up by sending on Vydra and Johann Berg Gudmundsson and at drinks Liverpool also made a double change as Jones and Nico Williams – whose brother Keelan is just about to join the Clarets’ Academy on a full-time basis – were replaced.
And it was the Clarets who came out suitably refreshed to level the scores through Rodriguez’s high-quality finish as the striker added to the two goals he scored at Anfield for West Bromwich Albion in a 2018 FA Cup success.
James Tarkowski’s header on from a Phil Bardsley free-kick dropped for Rodriguez near the edge of the penalty area and his excellent strike on the turn fizzed across Alisson and into the bottom corner.
The Clarets were now more than a match for the champions, looking a threat on the break with McNeil having more and more influence and Liverpool having to work so much harder for every opening as they poured forward to preserve their flawless record.
That gave Burnley openings at the other end they threatened to exploit.
And with three minutes to Gudmundsson crashed a shot against the bar as the Clarets pinned Liverpool back and came within inches of a famous victory.
There was still time in added time for Salah to make it 18 out of 18 and prevent the Clarets becoming the first team since Leicester City in January, 2019 not to leave Anfield empty handed.
But fittingly Pope denied him with another save that typified Burnley’s refusal to be beaten as they keep piling the pressure on the teams above them in the race for Europe.
Liverpool: Allison; Williams (Alexander-Arnold 65), Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho; Jones (Keita 65), Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 81); Salah, Firmino, Mane. Substitutes: Adrian, Lovren, Minamino, Shaqiri, Origi, Elliott.
Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor; Pieters (Gudmundsson 65), Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil; Wood (Vydra 65), Rodriguez. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Brady, Thompson, Dunne, Benson, Goodridge, Glennon.
Booked: Bardsley, Pope
Referee: David Coote