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REPORT: Burnley 2 Cardiff City 0

Chris Wood's double secures crucial win as Clarets go 11 points clear

13 April 2019

On a day when winning was everything, the Clarets got the job done to all but secure a fourth successive season in the Premier League.

Chris Wood’s ninth and tenth top-flight goals of the campaign were enough for Sean Dyche’s men to go 11 points clear of Cardiff, who remain stuck in the final relegation place.

It was nervy and, at times, unconvincing stuff from the Clarets as they were almost made to pay for not adding to Wood’s headed goal in a dominant first-half display.

But just when it mattered, Dyche’s side again dug deep to tough it out and complete a hat-trick of wins to all but guarantee safety.

Wood’s second goal in added time at the end prompted celebrations on and off the pitch which suggested ‘mission accomplished’, and with the Clarets climbing to 14th place in the table, it’s appears to be onwards and upwards for Dyche’s troops.

Burnley came out to a sea of claret as flags and scarves left for each supporter provided a colourful backdrop and vibrant atmosphere on a potentially pivotal afternoon.

And the feel-good factor should have been extended just a couple of minutes in.

In a mirror image of the opening goal that set up victory over Wolves a fortnight ago, Dwight McNeil had the chance to deliver a free-kick into the penalty area.

Rather than pick out Wood’s run, this time he went to the back post where Ben Mee headed the ball back across goal for Wood whose aim was just off target as he nodded against a post.

That reprieve allowed Cardiff the chance to settle but it didn’t take long for the Clarets to take a grip.

McNeil, again positive in everything he did, whistled a shot just over before Ashley Westwood missed the first of two decent chances – both saved by Neil Etheridge after the midfielder had been released for a clear run on goal as he looked to follow up his effort at Bournemouth a week ago.

But between time, the Clarets’ growing pressure did pay off with the opening goal with just over half an hour gone.

Etheridge’s finger-tip interception of Westwood’s free-kick had come at the expense of a corner.

And when McNeil delivered, Wood timed his run to perfection to stoop and head home his 12th goal of the season to give the Clarets a thoroughly merited half-time lead.

The advantage should have been greater, though, and Burnley were almost made to pay following a sloppy start to the second half.

And in an incredible passage of play, Cardiff thought they had been handed the chance to equalise from the penalty spot.

After Harry Arter had drilled a shot against the hand of the rock-solid Mee, the Clarets’ defender then saw the ball canon of his face against his arm as he made another block.

Assistant referee Darren Cann flagged, prompting referee Mike Dean to point to the spot before a conversation between the two saw the decision over-turned.

Cardiff were incensed but didn’t let the controversy disrupt their rhythm and Junior Hoilett could have levelled with a chance to lifted over the top from Kenneth Zohore’s pull-back as the Clarets struggled to stem the tide.

Arter also skimmed the bar from just outisde the box, but for all the Clarets’ uncertainty, former Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton didn’t have a testing save to make as he and his defensive allies secured a second successive clean sheet at Turf Moor.

And with just over 10 minutes to go, Dyche’s men went close to relieving the pressure with a second goal.

Ashley Barnes went close when he met Wood’s flick with an effort at full stretch which Etheridge touched around a post.

And with set-pieces the Clarets’ biggest threat, Mee was denied his first goal of the season by Etheridge’s save from a powerful far-post header from another McNeil corner.

McNeil has proved one of the catalysts for the Clarets’ remarkable mid-season turn-around which has now yielded 27 points from 15 games since hitting rock bottom on Boxing Day.

And the teenager produced another bit of magic to finally kill off Cardiff’s hopes in stoppage time as the Clarets breathed a collective sigh of relief.

His mazy run took him clear of the visitors’ defence and when his low cross bounced up off defender Bruno Ecuele Manga, Wood was again the right man in the right place to nod home and go into double figures for a Premier League campaign he can now surely look forward to repeating next season.

Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood. Substitutes: Hart, Gudmundsson, Brady, Gibson, Ward, Vydra, Long.

Booked: Tarkowski, Barnes

Cardiff City: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett; Gunnarsson; J Murphy, Arter (Reid 80), Camarasa, Hoilett (Mendez-Laing 73); Zohore (Niasse 78). Substitutes: B Murphy, Ralls, Bacuna, Cunningham.

Booked: Bennett, Arter, Camarasa.

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 21,480


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