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21:46 19th April 2011


Brilliant Burnley fired out a warning to their play-off rivals that they are ready to go the distance with an emphatic victory at a re-energised Turf Moor.

The Clarets had won only one Saturday-Tuesday home double-header in the past decade with the last quick-fire six-pointer coming back in September 2008.

But just when they needed it most, Eddie Howe's men delivered the goods as they blew Boro away with three goals in 15 giddy first-half minutes.

Jay Rodriguez, Wade Elliott and Michael Duff were the men to put the polish on an outstanding performance which sent the Clarets up to ninth in the table, level on points with Nottingham Forest in seventh and only two behind Leeds United in the final play-off place.

And with four games to go, the fast-finishing Clarets have given themselves every chance of forcing their way into the end-of-season promotion shoot-out.

Howe had asked his side to come out with all guns blazing and they followed his instructions to the letter in an up-tempo start.

With Chris Iwelumo restored to the attack in tandem with Rodriguez, the Clarets had some targets to aim for as they utilised Elliott and Chris Eagles superbly from the wide positions.

Jay Rodriguez celebrates making it 1-0

Eagles provided a cross which Rodriguez headed wide and it was another contribution from the revitalised wingman that led to the opening goal after 22 minutes.

Eagles forced Paul Smith to push his shot around the post and from the corner the Clarets produced a well rehearsed routine which Boro fell for hook line and sinker.

Danny Fox's driven ball in was dummied by Eagles and Rodriguez arrived on cue to drill home his 14th goal of the season on the 100th appearance of his burgeoning career.

If that was good, there was even better to come within 60 seconds as the Clarets went 2-0 up with one of their finest goals of the season.

Typically of the way Burnley had pressed Boro all around the pitch, Eagles won the ball deep in his own half.

He broke forward and found Rodriguez, who kept the move going with a superb run forward and a pass into Elliott, whose twinkling feet in the penalty area made space for a right-foot shot which he buried into the roof of the net.

Wade Elliott makes it two

With confidence oozing back through Burnley veins, Howe's troops didn't rest on their laurels.

Boro hadn't lost in seven games as they eyed a ten-year best unbeaten run but they were three down eight minutes before the break when another corner did the trick for Burnley.

This time Fox, sold by Boro boss Tony Mowbray to Burnley when the pair were at Celtic, lofted the ball to the far post where Duff soared to nod in his first goal since October, 2008.

Duff was also doing a sterling job at the other end in limiting Boro's sight of goal.

And even when top scorer Scott McDonald did force Brian Jensen into action, the Clarets' keeper quickly turned it into a Clarets' attack as his superb kick released Rodriguez to set up Iwelumo for an attempted flick at goal in the final minute of a fantastic first half.

And Michael Duff is all smiles after the third

Burnley did not allow the standard to drop following the interval and some magic from Eagles, who could easily have had a penalty after being tugged back in the box, almost laid a goal on a plate for Dean Marney.

Marney then almost repaid the favour for Eagles as the Clarets played some top-notch football all over the pitch, with Boro's only riposte a thunderbolt of a free-kick from Tony McMahon which flew over the bar.

Among some outstanding performances Fox's was right up there with the best and when he sent out a trademark diagonal ball for Iwelumo to head down, Rodriguez curled an effort just over the bar as a fourth goal looked almost inevitable.

Eagles was straining every sinew to either provide or score it and when he forced another corner with 65 minutes gone, Rodriguez threatened again with a header which flew just too high.

But with Boro making a triple substitution to bring on some fresh legs they finally stemmed the tide and pulled one back with nine minutes to go.

Well played lads!

Rhys Williams had been a popular member of the Clarets' promotion-winning squad during a loan spell two years ago and he marked his return with a shot touched against the woodwork by Jensen which bounced out for Andrew Taylor to drill home for Boro's consolation.

With goal difference potentially crucial in the final reckoning it was the only minor blemish on an up-lifting night.

And even then Rodriguez almost redressed the balance with another storming run and shot which went just wide and Jack Cork almost scored a magnificent opportunist effort in stoppage time as the Clarets looked to finish on a high.

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Fox, Duff, Bikey (Carlisle 71), Cork, Marney (Alexander 90), Elliott, Rodriguez, Iwelumo, Eagles (Delfouneso 76). Subs: Wallace, Thompson, Duffy, Grant.

Middlesbrough: Smith, Bates, McManus, Taylor, McMahon (Lita 59), Thompson (Smallwood 59), Williams, Robson (Kink 59), Arca, Bennett, McDonald. Subs: Davies, Flood, Halliday, Coyne.

Booked: McMahon 34

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 14,366

    Data provided by Press Association