PL REPORT: Burnley 1 Newcastle Utd 2
Vydra strikes again but super-sub turns tide for Tynesiders
Timing is everything.
Cometh the hour cometh the man as the return of Newcastle talisman, Alain Saint Maximin, proved fatal for Burnley, as United fought back from Matej Vydra’s first half goal to revive their relegation hopes.
The Clarets looked on course after the Czech striker bagged his third goal in five games to put the visitors firmly on the back foot at half time.
However, Frenchman Saint-Maximin, whose absence had taken away much of United’s attacking edge, sprung from the bench with an hour approaching to spark a dramatic seven minute turnaround in fortunes; first assisting Jacob Murphy’s equaliser and then drilling home the winner following a solo run.
It was a dagger through the heart for the Clarets, who remain seven points clear of the drop zone , but with Newcastle now just a point adrift.
There was a blow for Burnley, best by injuries throughout the season, as Nick Pope missed out with a shoulder injury sustained at Southampton.
That meant a home Premier League debut for Bailey Peacock-Farrell, fresh from international duty with Northern Ireland.
The Clarets were also without experienced attacking back-up on the bench, with Jay Rodriguez focusing on the imminent arrival of his first child and Ashley Barnes still absent through injury.
However, it was a positive start from Sean Dyche’s side, with Vydra looking lively alongside Chris Wood.
The striker had an early shot blocked by Ciaran Clark, before another chance fell to Josh Brownhill,, whose flick header from Ashley Westwood’s inswinging corner was well parried by Martin Dubravkam, who would prove a constant thorn in the side.
However, the hosts' bright start reaped dividends in the 18th minute when Vydra was on target to open the scoring.
Strike partner Wood was the architect, latching onto Ashley Westwood’s incisive pass and heading to the by-line before cutting the ball back perfectly for Vydra to smash home from six yards.
The goal rocked Newcastle, who knew a positive result would widen the three-point gap between them and 17th placed Fulham, following the Cottagers’ damaging home defeat to Wolves on Friday.
And although Dwight Gayle did prod the ball home 10 minutes before half time, the Newcastle striker was merely going through the motions as he knew he was stood in an offside position.
That offered some encouragement for the visitors though, and soon after Burnley were indebted to Peacock-Farrell for an instinctive save at his near post, as Gayle connected with Murphy’s dangerous low ball across the six-yard box.
In the aftermath, there were appeals for a penalty as James Tarkowski raised his leg and hooked the ball clear as Matt Ritchie stooped to head home the rebound. However, a cursory check on VAR dismissed claims of dangerous play against the Burnley defender.
And as Burnley rallied, they were inches away from doubling their lead on the stroke of half time.
Westwood recycled a corner and as Paul Dummett stretched to reach a flick-on, it needed a sprawling save from Dubravka to avoid an own goal.
The United stopper was at it again straight from the restart, brilliantly tipping over Matt Lowton’s dipping volley.
And when Wood held off Clark, the Kiwi would have been disappointed to slice his effort from a narrow angle.
And after Newcastle boss Steve Bruce finally rolled the dice just before the hour mark, those Dubravka saves proved their worth as the visitors turned the game on its head.
Saint Maximin and Callum Wilson were both back in the squad for the first time in months, and their introduction sparked United into life with devastating effect.
Within two minutes French winger Saint Maximin weaved his way to the by-line and teed up Murphy for an angled shot that flew past Peacock-Farrell and into the far corner.
And seven minutes later, Saint Maximin went it alone as he drove at the heart of the Burnley defence and switched the ball onto his left foot to drill the ball home from 18 yards.
Now it was Burnley’s turn to respond and Vydra side-footed wide from McNeil’s low ball from the left.
But having grabbed the lead, Newcastle dug dep to repel any hope of a fightback - and might have extended their led in the final minute as Saint Maximin again caused chaos and Almiron’s effort was superbly cleared off the line by Tarkowski.
BURNLEY: Peacock-Farrell, Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton, McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Gudmundsson (Mumbongo 86), Vydra, Wood.
Subs: Norris, Taylor, Cork, Stephens, Bardsley, Nartey, Dunne, Richardson
Booked: Brownhill 69
NEWCASTLE: Dubravka, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Joelinton (Wilson 59), Ritchie (Saint-Maximin 59), Gayle, Fernandez, Murphy, Almiron (Hendrick 90), Longstaff.
Subs: Darlow, Carroll, Lewis, Krafth, Manquillo, Willock
Ref: Anthony Taylor