Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Europe Here We Come!

The road to Europe: Season review part IV

26 May 2018

What a season that was. Seventh place in the Premier League gave the Clarets their highest league finish since 1974, with Europa League qualification taking Burnley into European competition for only the third time in their history and the first for 51 years.

This is the final instalment of how it happened, including a FREEVIEW 30-minute video review (click above).

March-May

After a testing winter schedule, the Clarets took off at the start of March with the run that ultimately propelled them over the line and into Europe.

In a magical month – wrapped around a first England call-up for Nick Pope and a first cap for James Tarkowski – Sean Dyche’s revitalised side racked up a hat-trick of wins with more to follow.

And it all started with a 2-1 home success over Everton which was to prove pivotal come the end of the season.

The Toffees went in front, which on 53 previous attempts in the top flight under Dyche’s leadership had spelled an end to Burnley’s victory hopes.

But this team dusted themselves down to score twice in a magnificent fightback which brought a first win in 12 league games and a crucial three points in Dyche’s 250th game in charge.

The deadly duo of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood got the goals as Barnes coolly finished from Matt Lowton’s sublime through-ball before Wood marked his return, via the bench, from a costly injury-enforced absence with a header past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from a Johann Berg Gudmundsson corner.

Everton skipper Ashley Williams was sent off late on in front of the unhappy Everton fans, who didn’t see their side lay a glove on Burnley again in the race for Europe as a first double over Sam Allardyce’s side since 1960 took the Clarets up to 40 points.

Next stop was the capital again, and an afternoon at the London Stadium that will stay in the memory for both good and bad reasons.

It was the day the patience of many unhappy West Ham supporters snapped, as they protested against the club’s owners and their stewardship of a team that was on a wretched run and in relegation danger in a stadium few call home.

But amongst the chaos of pitch invasions and ugly scenes in the stands, the Clarets admirably kept their cool to score three times in an awesome second-half performance.

Barnes lit the blue touchpaper with a cracker before Wood added two more to secure a first away win since November.

Following the international break which saw Tarkowski make his international bow against Italy at Wembley, the Clarets returned to domestic duty with a routine 2-1 win at bottom club West Bromwich Albion, who duly pulled the plug on manager Alan Pardew.

There was nothing ordinary about Barnes’ opening goal, however, as he netted a spectacular flying volley to set up Dyche’s 100th win as Burnley boss.

Barnes also entered the record books as the in-form striker became only the second Burnley player – after Sam Vokes – to score in four successive Premier League games.

And his purple patch also saw Barnes became the first Claret to score in four top-flight games in a row in the same season since John Murray in 1968.

Wood added his customary strike after the break against his former club with a late Baggies’ goal failing to prevent a sixth away success of the campaign for the well-travelled Clarets.

The beginning of April brought no change to Burnley’s momentum as they again came from behind to win 2-1 at Watford and go six points clear of Leicester City in seventh place in the table.

When Watford led early in the second only a second defeat in eight games threatened Dyche’s side.

But super-sub Vokes came off the bench and 24 seconds later had equalised with his first touch.

Jack Cork, again operating as the Clarets’ third captain of the season following injury to Ben Mee and Tom Heaton’s welcome return only as far as the bench, then led by example as he headed the winner.

Goalline technology confirmed Cork’s effort had crossed the line as Burnley secured a third successive away win in the top tier for the first time since 1973 and a fourth win in a row in the top flight since 1968.

And things just kept getting better as the Clarets made it a famous five as Leicester were the next to be sent away from Turf Moor empty-handed with their hopes of catching Dyche’s high-fliers seemingly fatally dented.

Wood and Kevin Long – with his first Premier League goal – struck early to put Burnley in control as Wood went into double figures with another effort against a former club.

But it wasn’t quite a pipe-and-slippers afternoon as the Foxes tried to stay in the hunt with a Jamie Vardy goal making the Clarets scrap all the way for a priceless 2-1 win and a seventh Turf Moor success of the campaign.

There was to be no eighth as Chelsea came to town and avenged their opening-day defeat with a classy showing and a 2-1 win.

And that fine-tuned the Blues nicely for an FA Cup semi-final win over Southampton which guaranteed seventh place in the Premier League would guarantee a place next season’s Europa League.

Burnley were the team in possession and they refused to let it go, coming from behind at soon-to-be-relegated Stoke to put another vital point on the board from a 1-1 draw, Barnes again showing his eye for goal to make it six in eight games for the striker who also moved into double figures.

Dyche’s heroes were within touching distance of delivering the dream and sending the fans on the European Tour that had become an anthem.

Another point from a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton effectively sealed the deal, with Everton somehow needing to close a six-point gap and a 15-goal deficit over the next two games.

And when the Merseysiders dropped two points at home to Southampton the following Saturday night it was official. Burnley were in Europe!

Perhaps not surprisingly the Clarets couldn’t raise themselves one more time as Arsenal produced a going day to win 5-0 on Arsene Wenger’s Emirates Stadium farewell.

And an injury-time strike from Bournemouth – after Wood had earlier notched his 11th goal of the season to finish as top scorer ­– closed a historic season on a losing note as the Clarets were beaten 2-1 at Turf Moor on the final day.

But that didn’t dampen the celebrations or take any edge off a remarkable achievement from Dyche, his staff and players as they earned their place in claret and blue folklore.


Advertisement block