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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:04 25th April 2010

BURNLEY 0 LIVERPOOL 4

The Clarets dared to dream and lived the dream but sadly after just one year back in the top flight that dream ended with defeat to Liverpool consigning Burnley to relegation back to the Championship.

The margin of defeat to a Liverpool side still chasing a Champions League place was cruel as the Clarets produced a performance that may have kept them up had they managed to repeat it more often in more 'winnable' home fixtures.

For long periods Brian Laws' braves made Liverpool look anything but a serious top-four outfit as they refused to go down without a fight.

But the goal they needed to have a chance of kick-starting the run of three straight wins needed to have any chance of beating the drop wouldn't come.

Instead it was Steven Gerrard, twice, Maxi Rodriguez and Ryan Babel who struck in the second half to break Burnley's hearts.

Ultimately a run of just two wins in 25 games since the heady days of the autumn, when Burnley proudly held a top-ten place, has proved insufficient.

Feeling the pain

But the Clarets will depart with their heads held high after enriching the Barclays Premier League for a season and were given a warm send-off by a sell-out crowd who backed them to the end ahead of the curtain-call against Tottenham Hotspur in a fortnight's time.

For the final roll of the dice, Laws had recalled David Nugent after the Liverpudlian had recovered from a hamstring strain to add some punch to the Clarets' attack and Burnley duly threw the kitchen sink at the visitors in an opening half that was among their best of the season.

After a cagey opening spell in which Liverpool winger Ryan Babel fired just wide, Burnley discarded the shackles and took the fight to Rafa Benitez's side with a fearless display that belied their position just above the relegation trapdoor.

Steven Fletcher was a colossus up front as he took some rough treatment but kept coming back for more to link together many of the Clarets' best attacks.

Outside him Nugent and Martin Paterson threatened down the flanks with Paterson whipping in a string of dangerous crosses and Fletcher headed one just over with 26 minutes gone.

Wade Elliott battles to the end

Burnley competed magnificently, although Liverpool captain Gerrard showed his class with some typically well-timed runs from deep and after half-an-hour he got a sight of goal with a shot on the turn which Brian Jensen easily gathered.

The Clarets snapped into the tackles, epitomised by Danny Fox and Michael Duff, and Fletcher saw a shot charged down by Daniel Ayala.

But Burnley still needed a goal to stay alive and two minutes before the break it almost came.

This time Tyrone Mears was the provider with another high quality cross and Jack Cork arrived perfectly in the penalty area to connect with a downward header which just lacked the direction to beat Pepe Reina who was able to save going down to his right.

That left the Clarets with just 45 minutes to save their season and again they came flying out the blocks with Cork causing panic in the Liverpool defence with a cross which eluded Reina and bounced clear off the elbow of Daniel Agger with Fletcher just unable to get a decisive touch.

Mears then forced Reina to save his long-range free-kick but with 52 minutes disaster struck as Gerrard put Liverpool in front thanks to a massive slice of luck.

Steven Fletcher couldn't have done more

The England man was allowed too much time to make space for a shot but still needed a huge deflection of Cort to beat Jensen with a shot from just outside the box.

That was fortunate but the quality of Gerrard's second strike was beyond question as he consigned the Clarets to the drop with half an hour to go.

Again there was an element of luck as Alberto Aquilani slipped when trying to control a pass from Rodriguez, instead the ball falling for Gerrard to curl a beauty just inside the post from 25 yards.

To their credit the Clarets didn't throw in the towel as Paterson tried to steer a Fox shot on target and Nugent burst through to test Reina with a low shot.

And even though they now needed a minor miracle Burnley kept going. Laws sent on Robbie Blake in place of Alexander and Fletcher continued to run riot, forcing Reina to save and then striking a left foot effort past the Spaniard but against the foot of a post.

Double trouble from Steven Gerrard

The goal wouldn't come, though, and to add to the frustration as the Clarets kept going forward Liverpool then added a third on the break as Aquilani picked out Rodriguez to shoot past Jensen.

Substitute Steven Thompson headed just wide at the end other end as Burnley looked to end on a high but it was Liverpool who had the final word as Babel strode through to complete a flattering victory that keeps their top-four hopes alive with the last meaningful kick of Burnley's historic campaign.

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Fox, Cort, Duff, Alexander (Blake 63), Cork, Paterson (Eagles 71), Nugent (Thompson 77), Fletcher, Elliott. Subs: Bikey, Caldwell, Rodriguez, Weaver.

Liverpool: Reyna, Johnson, Carragher, Ayala , Agger (Lucas 77), Mascherano, Aquilani, Gerrard, (Pacheco 83), Maxi, Kuyt (Benayoun 48), Babel. Subs: Kyrgiakos, Degen, El Zhar, Cavalieri.

Referee: Phil Dowd

Booked: Burnley: Cork 29, Duff 78

Liverpool: Gerrard 44

Attendance: 21,553

Down but not out

    Data provided by Press Association