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Match Reports

REPORT: Burnley 1 Aston Villa 2

Wood goal and second-half fightback not enough as Clarets make losing start to 2020

1 January 2020

The Clarets couldn’t make it a happy New Year as a third successive defeat left them looking over their shoulders at the start of 2020.

Sean Dyche’s men still have a handy cushion above the bottom three places as they head into the new decade.

But Villa’s win – secured by first-half goals from Wesley and the outstanding Jack Grealish – allowed the Midlanders to climb out of the relegation places and within three points of the Clarets, whose barnstorming second-half performance was ultimately too little, too late.

Burnley were impressive after the break as they looked to stave off a sixth home defeat of the season and first against a side in the bottom half of the table.

But despite penning Villa in their own half, they couldn’t add to Chris Wood’s eighth goal of the season and paid the price for a dismal first 45 minutes which proved just beyond repair.

wood scores.JPG

The tone was set in a nervy start from the Clarets who needed the assistance of VAR to stop them going behind with 12 minutes gone.

When Grealish headed home a cross from Ezri Konsa following some sloppy defending the Villa players and supporters celebrated their first ‘goal’ away from home in three games.

Some three minutes later it was chalked off when Wesley’s heel was ruled to be an inch offside as the technology again did few favours to those inside the ground.

The decision only delayed the seemingly inevitable, however, as Villa did claim a legitimate lead inside half an hour through Wesley’s first league goal since October and their last away success.

The Clarets hadn’t got going, bar flashes from Dwight McNeil who rifled a shot over the bar of former Burnley skipper Tom Heaton, and they were finally made to pay.

McNeil attack.JPG

Nick Pope had saved well with his feet from Wesley and a follow-up from Douglas Luiz but he was powerless to keep out another Wesley effort on the volley following a one-two with Grealish, who was running the game for the visitors.

The Clarets couldn’t deal with the movement and passing of the Villa captain and four minutes before the break he doubled the visitors’ lead, accepting a pass from Luiz to make the room to rifle a shot into the top corner.

Burnley’s response was to send on Jay Rodriguez - making his 150th appearance for the Clarets - and Johann Berg Gudmundsson at the start of the second half.

The pair had been instrumental in the Clarets’ effort to claw back a deficit against Manchester United four days previously and again made an immediate difference – although it might have been a lost cause had Luiz beaten Pope with an excellent chance to put Villa three clear at the other end.

For the first time the Villa defence was asked some serious questions and Rodriguez – who had come off the bench to score an equaliser at Villa Park in September – almost pulled one back when a ball fired across the box from James Tarkowski hit his heel and bounced just the wrong side of the post.

Tarkowski shot.JPG

A goal would surely have unsettled a Villa side with the worst away record in the division and with McNeil and Taylor also starting to pepper the visitors’ box there was a feeling it would come.

Another cross from Taylor presented Wood with a chance he lashed wide before Wood couldn’t make the most of an opening presented by Ashley Westwood’s fine pass.

The Clarets had amassed 18 goal attempts without locating the target but with 10 minutes of normal time to go they finally made the breakthrough to get them back into the game.

And it was top scorer Wood who got his radar right with another headed goal – showing great strength to nod in from beyond the far post from Westwood’s chipped cross.

Heaton was injured as he tried to keep the ball out, adding further to the injury-time as he became the second Villa man to be stretchered off after Wesley’s earlier exit.

Heaton stretchered off.jpg

That allowed the Clarets an additional nine minutes to try and force an equaliser but despite camping in Villa territory they couldn’t test Villa substitute keeper Orjan Nyland as the visitors hung on to three big points.

Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady (Gudmundsson HT), Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Wood, Barnes (Rodriguez HT). Substitutes: Hart, Lowton, Drinkwater, Hendrick, Long.

Booked: Tarkowski

Aston Villa: Heaton (Nyland 84); Konsa, Mings, Hause; Guilbert, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz, Taylor; Trezeguet (Hourihane 77), Wesley (Kodjia 70), Grealish. Substitutes: Chester, Lansbury, El Ghazi, El Mohamady.

Booked: Taylor

Referee: Michael Oliver

Attendance: 19,561


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