Burnley boosted their Premier League survival chances significantly on Thursday night, with first-half goals from Connor Roberts and Nathan Collins giving them a deserved 2-0 win over Southampton.
The Clarets impressed going forward in what was their first game at Turf Moor without Sean Dyche in the dugout in nearly a decade, although their task was aided by some shambolic defending from the visitors.
Saints started strongly and some shambolic Clarets defending from a corner allowed Oriol Romeu to power a header narrowly wide inside seven minutes. He really should have scored.
The visitors were made to rue this missed chance soon after too when Burnley took the lead. Roberts was the hero, shifting the ball onto his weaker left foot and curling it beyond Fraser Forster.
This strike sparked the hosts into life and before the quarter-hour mark, Forster had to be alert to prevent both Wout Weghorst and Jay Rodriguez from adding to the Clarets’ advantage.
The one-way traffic continued as the first half wore on. From a corner Rodriguez’s flick was kept out before Collins crash a header off the post on the rebound.
Burnley’s set-piece defending was not much better though, and just after the half-hour mark Romeu was left unmarked for a second time, only for the Spaniard to again nod wide.
This was a rare deviation from the story of the opening period with Burnley eventually and deservedly, doubling their lead before the break. Collins made up for his earlier miss, rising high to glance Josh Brownhill’s corner into the net. There was a brief scare when VAR took some time to review the goal for offside, but it was eventually given.
Despite their pitiful first-half display, Ralph Hasenhuttl did not make any changes at the interval, and his players produced more of the same before Burnley made it 3-0 just after the hour.
Or so they thought. After a VAR check, Jack Cork was denied a scrappy goal against his former club as fellow ex-Saint Rodriguez was in an offside position in the lead-up.
Substitute Che Adams gave Burnley a scare soon after, slipping off of James Tarkowski before seeing his powerful effort blocked by Nick Pope.
Aside from this, Southampton offered little to trouble the Clarets goalkeeper, with Burnley successfully seeing out a vital three points.
The victory moves Mike Jackson’s side onto 28 points, just one shy of 17th-placed Everton who have played one game less. Meanwhile, Saints remain in 13th position with five matches left to play.
Here are your player ratings from Turf Moor…
GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Not the busiest evening for the Clarets’ goalkeeper but was alert to deny Adams in the second period.
RB: Connor Roberts – 8/10 – Opened the scoring in splendid fashion a few minutes after making a vital block. His ventures forward were not always encouraged under Sean Dyche, but they should be now as he was devastating.
CB: James Tarkowski – 6/10 – Let Che Adams slip free in the second half and could have been punished. Burnley’s poor set-piece defending is a worry too.
CB: Nathan Collins – 7/10 – Missed a gilt-edged chance in the first half, hitting the post from very close range. Made up for that on the stroke of half-time.
LB: Charlie Taylor – 8/10 – Defended diligently, making one incredible goal-saving tackle to deny Adams. Also showed glimpses of having the shackles loosened offensively by Jackson.
RM: Dwight McNeil – 7/10 – Started very strongly, nipping past Saints’ backline with ease and firing off some shots. Back to his best.
CM: Josh Brownhill – 8/10 – Bundled around the pitch, linking up with Roberts and McNeil really nicely. Ended with two assists too.
CM: Jack Cork – 7/10 – Provided Burnley with the solidity to allow Brownhill to push on. They are a well-suited pairing.
LM: Maxwel Cornet – 4/10 – His side’s standout performer in the first half of the season but he took a backseat here once again. Nothing came off for him.
ST: Jay Rodriguez – 6/10 – Was denied twice by Forster in the first half. Both were clever finishes.
ST: Wout Weghorst – 6/10 – Let a decent chance go begging in the first half. His movement is very clever but the goals need to start flowing soon.
SUB: Aaron Lennon (LM) – 6/10 – Stuck to his defensive duties to help his side see things out.
SUB: Matej Vydra (ST) – 6/10
SUB: Matthew Lowton (RB) – N/A
GK: Fraser Forster – 8/10 – Made two big saves to keep the score at 1-0 early on and continued to impress throughout. On current form it is ludicrous that Saints have still not decided whether or not to offer him a new deal.
CB: Yan Valery – 5/10 – Did not fare badly when one-on-one with Cornet. However, he seriously lacked authority and positioning was wild.
CB: Lyanco – 3/10 – Disastrous first-half display. He was all over the place. Sorted himself out somewhat after the interval.
CB: Jan Bednarek – 4/10 – Showed Roberts onto his weaker foot and was shocked to see the right-back still find the back of the net early on. Booked and generally unconvincing.
RM: Kyle Walker-Peters – 6/10 – Started very strongly, pushing high and wide while looking dangerous. Faded into the background but still Saints’ most potent attacking threat.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 6/10 – Weak defending for Burnley’s second goal. Swung in some excellent set-pieces, with only poor finishing preventing him getting an assist.
CM: Oriol Romeu – 3/10 – Missed two sitters in the first half, which changed the complexion of the game.
LM: Romain Perraud – 4/10 – Could not deal with combinations between Roberts, Brownhill and McNeil in the first half.
RF: Stuart Armstrong – 4/10 – Dropped too deep at times, stifling his own influence and starving Walker-Peters of support.
ST: Armando Broja – 2/10 – One of his worst displays of the season. Isolated and wasteful.
LF: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 4/10 – Used the ball fairly well when he got near it – which was not very often.
SUB: Che Adams (ST) – 6/10 – Brought more than Broja did in 90 minutes during his cameo.
SUB: Nathan Redmond (LF) – 5/10 – Not a lot to report.
SUB: Tino Livramento (RM) – N/A
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