PL REPORT: Southampton 3 Burnley 2
Clarets let lead slip as Saints recover from Wood’s landmark goal to steal a march
Chris Wood equalled a Clarets’ landmark but there were no points to go with it as Southampton’s fightback saw them seize the chance to pull further clear of the bottom three.
The sides were level in the table before kick-off and it looked like the Clarets would be the ones to move onwards and upwards and 10 points clear of the relegation places when they raced into a two-goal lead.
Wood’s opener from the penalty spot took him to seven goals for the season and 41 in total for the Clarets in the Premier League – equalling the club record of Ashley Barnes.
And when Matej Vydra then doubled the lead it appeared as though Sean Dyche’s men were on target for back-to-back wins following their victory at Everton before the international break.
But Southampton, with just one win in their previous 12 league games, picked themselves up off the canvas to expose rare defensive shortcomings from the Clarets.
And after levelling by the break thanks to Stuart Armtsrong and Burnley old-boy Danny Ings, the Saints grabbed all three points from a thrilling contest thanks to Nathan Redmond’s 66th-minute winner.
The Clarets - with just one defeat in their previous eight league games - hadn’t played for three weeks but looked as though they had never been away in a blistering start.
Wood almost scored inside the first minute with a break from half-way which ended with a curling shot which Fraser Forster did well to turn around his left-hand post.
A run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup apart, Southampton have so far had a miserable 2021 with their last home league win coming on 4 January.
And they couldn’t cope with the intensity of Burnley’s play which was rewarded with a penalty which brought Dyche’s men an early lead.
The visitors were attacking from all angles and when Erik Pieters – whose afternoon was to end early through injury – got forward from left-back to deliver a cross, he was caught late by Kyle Walker-Peters.
Referee Andre Marriner didn’t initially penalise the Southampton defender but after being advised to VAR to look at the pitch-side screen awarded the 100th penalty in the Premier League this season.
It was only the Clarets’ second which Wood coolly converted to score for the third game running.
It was largely one-way stuff, bar an effort from Redmond which Nick Pope saved at his near post on his return from England duty.
And with almost half an hour gone, the Clarets’ dominance was rewarded with a second goal.
Vydra scored a goal-of-the-month winner here last season and found the same net with another excellent left-foot, first-time finish from outside the box after Wood had flicked on a forward ball from Ben Mee.
The Clarets looked capable of creating something every time they went forward as the Wood-Vydra combination continued to click, but Southampton were also a growing threat.
Burnley’s yellow wall had kept them at bay with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski immovable objects between the ball and their goal.
But crucially the Clarets’ two-goal lead lasted only three minutes as Southampton got back into the game when Ings’ flick set up Armstrong to drive the ball past Pope from 20 yards.
Ings’ return to action after three games out with injury was massive bonus for the Saints and just before the break he showed his class with an equaliser.
The Clarets will be disappointed a ball down their left flank by-passed both Charlie Taylor and Mee.
But Ings still showed great pace and awareness to burst into the box and then cut inside James Tarkowski and slot the ball past Pope to score for the fourth game running against a former club – becoming the fourth player in the Premier League era to do so.
The Clarets needed to regain their grip and started positively in the second half as Taylor’s cross was just too high for Wood to head goalwards.
But even though the sides had started the afternoon level on points there was no question of settling for the status quo as Southampton then cranked it up again in search of a potential winner.
The stadium’s PA announcer thought they had scored a third goal when he triggered the celebration music following a deflected James Ward-Prowse shot which crashed off the underside of the bar and out again before Tarkowski headed off the line from Ings.
Pope then saved superbly after an Armstrong shot had taken a touch off Mee en route towards goal but the Clarets couldn’t hold out for much longer as the Saints finally went in front.
Pope denied Ings with another smart stop but when Theo Walcott lifted the loose ball back across goal, Redmond volleyed home his first league goal since December.
Suddenly the Clarets were in danger of having nothing to show for their early efforts and raised themselves for one last push to gain some reward.
And twice Wood went close to earning a point.
Foster saved his first effort which was curled towards the far corner as Burnley stepped up the pressure.
And then with 10 minutes to go, the Saints’ keeper made a better stop to keep out a close-range diving header from Dwight McNeil’s pin-point cross - Wood having his shirt pulled at the same time - as the Clarets couldn’t quite repair the damage and edge themselves closer to safety.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters (Taylor 33); Gudmundsson (Richardson 90), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Wood, Vydra (Rodriguez 78). Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Taylor, Cork, Stephens, Nartey, Dunne, Glennon.
Southampton: Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong (Salisu 79), Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Walcott (Djenepo 87); Ings (Adams 86), Redmond. Substitutes: McCarthy, Stephens, Minamino, Tella, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Referee: Andre Marriner