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REPORT: Aston Villa 2 Burnley 2

Jay-Rod and Chris Wood on target as battling Burnley twice hit back for a point

28 September 2019

Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood both scored on their return to the Midlands as the Clarets twice came from behind to take a precious point from a pulsating encounter.

Burnley hadn’t been to Villa Park since May, 2015 but this was worth the wait as Sean Dyche’s men extended their unbeaten run away from home with a gutsy performance capped by two headed equalisers.

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Jay Rodriguez claimed his first Premier League goal for the Clarets after coming off the bench at half-time to cancel out Anwar El-Ghazi’s first-half opener.

And after John McGinn had volleyed Villa back in front with 12 minutes of normal time to go, Wood hit back instantly with his third goal in two games back in the city where he had played on loan with Birmingham.

Rodriguez’s past with West Bromwich Albion made him a more obvious target for the Villa fans but the Clarets’ summer signing had the final word as he opened his account to leave honours even with former Burnley captain Tom Heaton as the Clarets' determination to not be beaten again came to the fore.

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Heaton was given a warm welcome by both sets of supporters on the goalkeeper's first reunion with the Clarets, but any feeling of bonhomie was soon put one on side by both sets of players in a full-blooded clash that barely contained a dull moment.

Villa - battling to get out of the bottom three on their return to the top-flight following a three-year absence - had the first chance just three minutes in when the lively McGinn headed wide from a Matt Targett cross at the start of eventful first 45 minutes for the Scotsman.

At the other end, Wood passed up an equally inviting opening when a better connection on an Erik Pieters’ cross would surely have brought the striker a headed goal.

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And both sides then struck the woodwork within the space of a minute in a feisty encounter, Hourihane curling an effort against the post following a short free-kick and then Dwight McNeil clipping the top of the crossbar with a superb set-piece of his own from 30 yards out.

The Clarets were very much in the hunt at that point but with Villa gradually turning up the heat it was the hosts who wrested control as they looked to add to the four points they had taken from their last two home games.

McGinn had an effort disallowed for off-side following the intervention of VAR which picked out Hourihane in an obvious off-side position as he delivered the decisive cross.

And even though the Clarets gained some respite with Jack Cork seeing a flicked attempt from an Ashley Westwood corner blocked on the line by Tyrone Mings, the momentum was increasingly with Villa.

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That said, the hosts’ opening goal will have disappointed the Clarets, who were caught out on the break after a Matt Lowton cross had been cleared for Frederic Guilbert to race away and pick out El Ghazi, whose excellent run towards the near post was matched with the quality of the finish which he steered across Nick Pope and into the far corner.

El Ghazi then headed wide and Pope had to save from Jack Grealish as Dyche was happy to get his men in to try and re-group.

That saw Rodriguez introduced at the start of the second half in place of Cork - who suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the piece - and a re-shuffle towards a 4-3-3 formation to match the opposition.

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And almost immediately the Clarets went close to equalizing as Ashley Barnes picked out Jeff Hendrick for an effort deflected over the bar via the outstretched leg of Mings.

With umpteen stoppages in the game – not least a lengthy delay for treatment to Wesley who went down as if out for the count after the ball caught the Villa striker in the face – Burnley found it hard to build up a real head of steam.

But their persistence paid off when Rodriguez headed the Clarets level in textbook fashion.

McNeil triggered the move from midfield and after Barnes and Pieters had put in the spadework out wide, Pieters delivered another pin-point cross which Rodriguez met with a powerful downward header to give Heaton no chance.

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On such a rumbustious afternoon that was never likely to be it, though, and two goals within not much more of a minute kept things on a knife edge.

Villa struck first when McGinn made amends for the one that got away with a composed far-post volley from an excellent delivery from substitute Trezeguet.

But the Villa fans in a capacity crowd had barely stopped celebrating when Burnley equalised for a second time through Wood.

Villa old boy Lowton was the provider this time, released by Wood to swing in a lovely ball which the striker met on the run with another powerful header to make it three goals in two games.

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No-one in the Premier League has scored more headed goals than Wood since the start of last season.

And his eighth such contribution brought a fitting reward as the Clarets then saw out seven minutes of added time to continue their forward momentum.

Aston Villa: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett (Taylor 62); McGinn, Nakamba, Hourihane; El Ghazi (Trezeguet 70), Wesley (Davis 88), Grealish. Substitutes: Steer, Taylor, Luiz, Ngoyo, Jota.

Booked: Trezeguet

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork (Rodriguez HT), McNeil; Wood, Barnes (Brady 83). Substitutes: Hart, Gudmundsson, Gibson, Lennon, Bardsley.

Booked: Barnes, Tarkowski, Westwood, Rodriguez.

Referee: Lee Mason

Attendance: 41,456 (2,789)


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