Why Sadio Mane start ahead of Diogo Jota ‘was not the plan’ for Liverpool against Burnley

The Senegal international was not scheduled to start at Turf Moor but was eventually given the nod ahead of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has explained why Sadio Mane was brought immediately and unexpectedly into Liverpool’s starting following his triumphant return from AFCON.

The Reds beat Burnley 1-0, with Fabinho’s goal five minutes before the interval the difference at Turf Moor. The win cuts the gap to Premier League leaders Manchester City to only nine points.

It’s now six consecutive victories in all competitions for Liverpool, but today’s game didn’t all go to plan.

Diogo Jota comes on to replace Sadio Mane. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

‘Not the plan’ for Mane to start

Following last week’s African Cup of Nations triumph, Mane was brought back into the Reds’ starting 11 in place of in-form Diogo Jota – with the Portuguese scoring five goals in his previous four games.

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After the game, Klopp explained why the decision to start the Senegal international was ‘not the plan’.

Mane joined Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s front three in Burnley but failed to replicate the form he displayed for his nation.

“Sadio played really, really well,” Klopp told the press after the win.

“As I said before [the game], it was not the plan to start him today because we know how intense everything was, but Diogo had a dead leg and couldn’t train yesterday, so we starred Sadio.

“Luis has adapted really well but this is a completely different game, like a ‘Welcome to the Premier League’, so we didn’t want to try it if we didn’t need it so that’s why we started like we started – and Sadio did really well.

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“He worked incredibly hard and that’s exactly what we expected.”

Reds’ new goalscoring midfielder

With Mane and Salah unable to add more goals to their tally, Fabinho continued his fine run in front of goal, with his third league goal in four games earning all three points.

The Brazilian scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season after scoring in the victories over Brentford and Crystal Palace in January.

On the midfielder’s goalscoring form, Klopp said: “He probably would have already scored much more goals for Liverpool if I would have put him in the box in offensive set-pieces: only recently we put him in and since then he scores.

“Great goal, an absolutely great goal. Yes, the space where the ball came to Sadio was the plan, but in that height obviously so Sad made absolutely the most of it with a great header, great deflection, and then perfect timing with it.

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“Fab is there for the first one, then scores a counter-pressing goal in the six-yard box which is absolutely outstanding.”