Liverpool jumped to fourth place in the Premier League table with an impressive 3-0 victory over Burnley on Wednesday night, significantly boosting their Champions League qualification hopes.
Although the scoreline was eventually convincing, Jurgen Klopp’s men struggled to get a foothold in the game after a fast start from their hosts, who were evidently keen to impress the 3000 home fans.
It could have been a much different outcome had New Zealand international striker Chris Wood finished a golden opportunity when he got in behind the Liverpool defence, but the Reds dug deep and eventually overcame their much-improved opponents.
A cool and composed Roberto Firmino finish just before half-time swung the game in the visitor’s favour, however, a far less celebrated member of the Liverpool side was the real hero in midweek.
Nat Phillips has been thrust into the limelight this season due to the season-ending injuries picked up by Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, and after a tough start to life in the top-flight, the 24-year-old has put in a string of improved performances in recent weeks.
None, though, were as impressive as his display last night. As per SofaScore, the centre-back recorded a rating of 8.9/10, the highest mark out of anyone on the Turf Moor pitch.
Phillips also won 13 of his 19 duels, made nine clearances, one of which was a goal-saving clearance off the line, and also had a passing accuracy of 79%. It was a solid, all-around performance from the Englishman who appears to be growing in stature week in week out.
To top off his fine evening’s work, Phillips popped up with his first senior Liverpool goal, crashing in a fine header to secure the three points and put the Anfield outfit one game away from securing their place in next season’s Champions League.
The result made it four consecutive league wins for Klopp’s charges, and after the 4-2 victory over bitter rivals Manchester United last week, the German manager was full of praise for Phillips and his defensive partner Rhys Williams.
“The concentration level (Phillips and Williams) showed (on Thursday) night again is immense, absolutely insane what they did there. Against this front four of United, it’s not easy,” Klopp said (via Liverpoolfc.com).
Liverpool are now sitting in fourth position in the Premier League standings, level on points with Leicester City but with a superior goal difference. Victory over Crystal Palace on the final day of the season should secure their return to Europe’s elite cup competition despite the odds being stacked against them for most of the season.