Liverpool picked up a comfortable three points at home to Burnley on Wednesday evening, and we round-up the best reaction from the morning papers.
The 2-0 triumph was arguably the Reds’ easiest victory of the season so far, as they were rarely troubled by Sean Dyche’s relegation-threatened side.
Jordan Henderson‘s Steven Gerrard-esque strike settled the nerves 29 minutes into the game, and from that point on it was all Liverpool.
Daniel Sturridge scored a fine header to double the lead early in the second-half, and you feel if they had really wanted to, Brendan Rodgers’ side could easily have scored four or five.
The win keeps the Reds on the tails of Arsenal and Manchester United in the race for Champions League football, as the season really starts to reach its business end.
The Daily Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe lauded the display of Henderson, who continues to show that there is life after Gerrard:
Jordan Henderson will be the first to admit he can never replace Steven Gerrard, but for one night only he performed an impressive tribute act to inspire Liverpool to victory over Burnley.
Henderson’s opening goal was of the standard Gerrard has copyrighted during his career, a net-bruising drive from the edge of the penalty area. Henderson’s goal celebration, a leg slide at the Kop corner flag, was also straight from the captain’s handbook.
As the England midfielder aspires to prove the armband should be stitched, rather than taped, to his jersey, such demonstrations bode well. Some argue Henderson needs to be his own man rather than so obviously imitate his mentor, but few at Anfield will complain if dominant midfield performances become habitual.
Another good performance from the lads! Well done @d_sturridge great header! ? https://t.co/DiG1daivrA
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) March 4, 2015
Andy Kelly of the Liverpool Echo also heaped praise on the soon-to-be permanent Liverpool skipper:
Another goal, another assist, another step towards this being his team. Forget the captaincy, forget replacing Steven Gerrard, let’s just enjoy the player. He led them out and he was last back to the dressing room, what form he’s in.
His sliced drive from just outside the box gave Tom Heaton no chance and the 24-year-old was celebrating his fifth goal of the season, just one short of his best from 2012/13 – and the first time he’s scored goals in consecutive games for the Reds.
His assist was his 11th of the year too, another of those curling ones with his right instep, Sturridge didn’t need to break stride.
Kelly also touched on Liverpool’s improved long-range shooting, with some wonderful goals scored by the Reds of late:
Liverpool scored their third successive goal from outside the box for the first time since January 2007 as they continued to have success with their long range efforts.
Ian Ayre spoke to the ECHO recently about putting performance related targets into Liverpool players’ new contracts. Most of us probably thought they were there already but we’ll let that pass. It would appear one of them is about having a go from distance.
(Joe) Allen’s arrived on the stroke of half time and wasn’t over by much, (Adam) Lallana’s second half curler was heading top corner before a Burnley head got in the way while (Philippe) Coutinho’s blocked effort was integral to the opener.
Anfield has seen some wonderful goals recently and it looks like we’re in for some more – and that’s worth a bit of anyone’s money.
#LFC are joint top of the six game form guide across Europe's big five leagues. pic.twitter.com/i5Y0E9zREx
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) March 4, 2015
Tim Rich of the Independent highlighted the Reds’ sparkling form, outlining just how tight the race for a top-four finish is going to be:
Liverpool finished this match riding as high as the full moon over the Centenary Stand and, if they are to be denied a Champions League place, someone is going to have to accumulate a lot of points.
Of the five straight wins that have carried them to fifth place, this was perhaps the most comfortable and, but for some laughable late defending at St James’ Park, it would have taken Liverpool level on points with Manchester United. The meeting between these sides on March 22 will be for very high stakes.
This is a Liverpool side in the kind of rhythm a long-distance runner going through the pack, from athlete’s shoulder to athlete’s shoulder, would recognise. They have not lost a league match this year and, if as Arsène Wenger suggested, 72 points will be enough for a Champions League place, it is a target five clubs are likely to reach.
Henderson deservedly dominated the back pages, and Dominic King of the Daily Mail felt the 24-year-old was the key in Liverpool getting through a potentially tricky match:
This may not have been as eye-catching as Sunday’s tour de force but it was no less impressive. They were ruthless, efficient and energetic with excellent performers all over the pitch and in Henderson, Rodgers had someone to set the necessary example.
These are the types of games that Gerrard, watching in the Directors Box, has grabbed by the scruff of the neck and he would have nodded approvingly at the way Henderson led Liverpool in his absence. So, too, would Rodgers.
Henderson might not command big headlines but his importance to this Liverpool team should not be taken for granted and this was a vital contribution, his goal releasing the tension. With 16 months left on his current deal, Liverpool must surely endeavour to finalise a new contract for him.
Next up for Liverpool is Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Blackburn at Anfield (4pm kick-off GMT) before travelling to Swansea in the Premier League on Monday 16th March (8pm kick-off GMT).