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Match Reports

Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

18 March 2017

Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

Burnley are still to win away from home this season but put another important point on the board thanks to a further Stadium of Light stalemate.

The two sides had drawn 0-0 here in the FA Cup in January before Burnley progressed in the replay thanks to a second win in nine days over the Black Cats after a 4-1 Premier League success on New Year's Eve.

There was to be no hat-trick of victories but in a game of greater significance than the third-round cup encounter, the Clarets remained unbeaten against the Premier League’s bottom club and moved a point further away from the relegation places going into the international break.

Burnley’s first-half performance suggested the long overdue first away success would finally come as they threatened to plunge the Wearsiders into even greater relegation trouble.

But the Clarets were guilty of wasteful finishing and were then grateful themselves to goalkeeper Tom Heaton and Sunderland’s own lack of conviction in front of goal as the roles were reversed after the break to make it honours. 

The opening half-hour was one of almost total domination by the Clarets – but crucially they couldn’t make it count.

Sean Dyche’s men set the tone from the start and didn’t let up as they virtually camped in the Sunderland half.

And when they weren’t probing around the home penalty area, they were looking to spring a counter-attack by releasing Andre Gray with an early ball forward.

The hard-running Gray constantly stretched a Sunderland back line missing the injured Lamine Kone, creating the first opening for Ashley Barnes for an effort the striker was unable to lift over stranded goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

But the best chance for Burnley to get something to show for their superiority fell George Boyd’s way with 10 minutes gone.

Again Gray  - a hat-trick hero from the league win at Turf Moor - was involved in the build-up, releasing the over-lapping Stephen Ward to cross low into the six-yard box.

Almost any touch from Boyd would have been unstoppable but with a stab of the left foot, the Clarets’ midfielder was unable to make a meaningful contact.

Sunderland, with only one league win since mid-December, had offered no threat with Jermain Defoe given no opportunity to celebrate his England re-call at the age of 35 with a 15th goal of the season.

But with half an gone, the Clarets were given a warning shot when they switched off from a corner taken by Adnan Januzaj, who had just escaped any censure for a stray elbow that had left Burnley defender with a battered and bloodied nose.

Darron Gibson was left totally unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and after being picked out by Januzaj, clipped a curling effort just over the bar.

Burnley should have been in front by the break, though, with another excellent chance going begging four minutes before the end of the first half.

Scott Arfield’s low, angled ball into the penalty area fell perfectly for Barnes, who poked the ball just the wrong side of the post from no more than six yards out.

If that first-half performance hinted at a wasted opportunity, Sunderland almost made Burnley pay within five minutes of the re-start as they missed a couple of excellent chances themselves as the heavens opened above them.

Fabio Borini was the initial culprit as he shot tamely at Heaton following Bryan Oviedo’s superb through-ball.

And Januzaj and Seb Larsson both then failed to convert, Heaton saving smartly from Januzaj from Defoe’s pass and Larsson then lifting a close-range effort over the top from Januzaj’s ball in.

The Clarets’ control of the opening period had deserted them and on a day of bad misses the worst one yet came the way of Billy Jones.

Burnley held an initial Sunderland break-away at bay but when Larsson crossed to the far post, the on-rushing Jones got himself fractionally ahead of the ball and somehow nodded wide from a matter of feet.

The momentum was with the Black Cats and Januzaj then dragged a shot wide as Sunderland sensed the chance to end a three-game losing streak.

The Clarets didn’t give up on the prospect of maximum points themselves as they tried to engineer another opening at the other end with Robbie Brady and Sam Vokes both on to offer fresh legs.

That left the game stretched and as Sunderland broke again, it took an excellent block from Mee to get in the way of another Januzaj effort as the game entered the final 10 minutes.

There was still to be one more big chance for Burnley, Vokes making it himself by robbing Jason Denayer and then forcing Pickford into a superb one-handed save as the England under-21 international kept the substitute's stinging angled drive out of the bottom corner.

But in stoppage time Sunderland also had the opportunity to take all three points, Heaton coming to Burnley’s rescue with another smart block low to his right to deny Januzaj again and finally guarantee the stalemate which keeps the Clarets eight points above the drop-zone with nine games to go.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd (Brady 74), Hendrick, Barton, Arfield, Barnes (Vokes 61), Gray. Substitutes: Robinson, Flanagan, Defour, Westwood, Tarkowski.
Booked: Barton

Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Denayer, O'Shea, Oviedo, Larsson (Khazri 81), Rodwell, Gibson (Ndong 74), Januzaj, Borini, Defoe. Substitutes: Mannone, Djilobodji, Lescott, Manquillo, Honeyman.
Booked: Gibson, Borini, Jones.

Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 41,518

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