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Klavan late show lifts Liverpool, Hughes under fire

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Liverpool’s Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan (C) stoops to head home their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 1, 2018. Liverpool won the game 2-1.Oli SCARFF / AFP


Ragnar Klavan’s last-gasp goal gave Liverpool a dramatic 2-1 win at Burnley, while Stoke manager Mark Hughes faced calls for his sacking after a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle on Monday.

With Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah missing due to thigh and groin injuries respectively and Roberto Firmino left on the bench, Sadio Mane was the lone member of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ to start at rain-lashed Turf Moor.

After a scrappy first half, Senegal winger Mane showed Liverpool can thrive without his star team-mates as he opened the scoring in the 61st minute.

Mane collected Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass and hammered home from the edge of the area for his eighth Liverpool goal this season.

Burnley equalised with just three minutes left as Sam Vokes flicked on and Johann Gudmundsson pounced to slot home.

But Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren headed on a free-kick four minutes into stoppage-time and Estonia defender Klavan poked home from close-range.

Liverpool’s third successive win extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games as they cemented their place in the top four.

The injuries to Coutinho and Salah are believed to be minor and the in-form pair are expected to have a chance of playing in Friday’s FA Cup third round tie against Merseyside rivals Everton

At the bet365 Stadium, Stoke’s latest lacklustre display piled pressure on Hughes, whose gamble of fielding a weakened team in Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing at Chelsea proved an unwise move.

Newcastle took a deserved lead in the 73rd minute when Ayoze Perez stabbed past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland from close-range.

That triggered chants for Hughes’s dismissal from Stoke fans, with a ‘Hughes out’ banner held aloft in the stands.

Stoke have won once in their last six games and sit two points above the relegation zone.

– Silva arrives at last –
Algeria duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani inspired Leicester’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield.

Claude Puel’s side took the lead through Mahrez in the 53rd minute, the winger meeting Marc Albrighton’s cross with a well-taken volley for his eighth goal of the season.

With Leicester striker Jamie Vardy sidelined by a groin injury, Islam Slimani who marked only his second league start this season with his first league goal since April — a chipped finish in the 60th minute.

Leicester’s Adrien Silva came on late in the second half for his long-awaited first appearance.

FIFA rejected the 28-year-old’s move from Sporting Lisbon in August when the paperwork arrived 14 seconds too late.

The Portugal midfielder finally completed his move on Monday and was cheered to the rafters when he made his first appearance at the King Power Stadium.

Albrighton’s 90th minute goal capped a good afternoon for Leicester, who ended a four-match winless run, while Huddersfield were beaten for the first time in five games.

Callum Wilson’s second goal in three games earned Bournemouth a 2-2 draw at south coast rivals Brighton.

Anthony Knockaert put Brighton ahead in the fifth minute before Steve Cook’s looping header had the visitors level in the 33rd minute.

Glenn Murray restored Brighton’s lead three minutes into the second half.

But Wilson rescued Bournemouth in the 79th minute with his fifth league goal of the campaign and Eddie Howe’s side are now unbeaten in their last three games.


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Ragnar Klavan
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