By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan’s 94th-minute header snatched a 2-1 victory at Burnley on Monday as the visitors coped without the injured Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho and made up ground on their rivals near the top of the Premier League.
With Manchester United facing Everton in Monday’s late game, while Chelsea and table-topping Manchester City play later in the week, Liverpool registered their second win in 48 hours after the Estonian popped up with his first league goal.
Stoke City’s Mark Hughes is under mounting pressure after his side’s 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle United, Leicester City beat Huddersfield Town 3-0 while Brighton & Hove Albion shared the points with Bournemouth in a pulsating 2-2 south-coast derby.
All the managers rotated players to deal with a busy festive period and Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp made seven changes, including giving Adam Lallana his first start this season, against a Burnley side who have often troubled the Meseysiders.
The absence of Coutinho will prompt inevitable speculation about the his future on the day the transfer window opened although Klopp said the Brazilian had a thigh injury.
With Liverpool’s top scorer Salah also ruled out with a groin strain and Firmino on the bench, Sadio Mane was the only member of their ‘Fab Four’ to start.
He opened the scoring with a superb strike after 61 minutes, picking up the ball with his back to goal and spinning to fire an unstoppable left-foot shot into the corner.
Burnley thought they had salvaged a point when Berg Gudmundsson equalised in the 87th but Klavan secured a win that moved Liverpool level on 44 points with third-placed Manchester United, who trail Chelsea by a point. City lead with 59 points.
As eye-catching as Senegal international Mane’s goal was, it was probably topped by Riyad Mahrez’s opener for Leicester.
The Algeria midfielder, who like Coutinho has been linked with a January move, produced the deftest of sidefoot volleys to give Leicester the lead against Huddersfield, with Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton adding further second-half goals.
A good day was made even better for the Foxes by a late cameo from Adrien Silva, who has had to wait to play his first game for the club after his move from Sporting was not registered in time in the last transfer window.
Stoke’s Hughes left the field to a torrent of abuse from supporters after his side’s latest setback, a loss made all the worse because the Welshman had rested players in the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday to prepare for Newcastle’s visit.
Ayoze Perez scored the winner as fellow strugglers Newcastle United recorded back-to-back Premier League wins on the road for the first time since 2014.
Bournemouth are another side looking anxiously over their shoulders after starting 2018 five points worse off than last year but Eddie Howe’s side will be pleased with their point at Brighton.
Bournemouth’s Steve Cook and Brighton’s Glenn Murray both scored against their former sides after Anthony Knockaert got the year off to a good start for the home side by scoring their quickest ever Premier League goal after five minutes.
However, Callum Wilson secured a point for the visitors after a frantic scramble in the area when Brighton failed to clear their lines.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)