PREM: Crystal Palace 0-2 Burnley


Ashley Barnes (left) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Scott Arfield

Burnley grabbed their first away win of the season and pulled clear of the drop zone with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.


In a performance of defensive steel and clinical finishing, goals from Ashley Barnes and substitute Andre Gray brushed aside a timid Palace outfit, who slipped back to their early season showings in front of the Selhurst Park faithful.

The hosts looked vulnerable up against Burnley's direct style and seemed to miss the influence of Mamadou Sakho, who suffered a knee injury against Tottenham in midweek.

Burnley, who were pre-season favourites to go down, are now sitting pretty on 39 points, eight points clear of Swansea while Palace remain on 38 points and still have a little bit of work to guarantee Premier League football next season.
 
Unlike recent victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, the onus was Palace to make the running and force the game against the Clarets, who were happy to play on the break with a direct approach.

It worked a charm as the hosts looked lacking in ideas with the ball. In comparison, Burnley's gameplan of getting the ball up to Sam Vokes and Barnes caused chaos. It took just eight minutes for them to create an opening - and Barnes took it.

Stephen Ward found space down the left and fired in a low cross which was missed by Martin Kelly and Barnes was on hand to fire home from six yards after having two bites at the cherry.

Frustrations boiled over in the stands after the goal as Burnley's James Tarkowski while celebrating the goal was hit with a lighter seemingly thrown from the Palace end.

Barnes had the ball in the net again eight minutes later, but this time the officials spared Palace's blushes. Burnley won two aerial challenges inside the Palace box and the ball dropped to Barnes from close range but despite scruffily knocking the ball home, his effort was ruled out for handball as he used his arm to control the dropping ball.

Vokes was the next Burnley player to win a header in the Palace box under no pressure but his header from 15 yards sailed inches wide with Wayne Hennessey beaten.

The goalkeeper then had to repel a Barnes header after another cross from the left evaded the Palace centre-backs.

Burnley sat a little deeper in the second period as they soaked up spells of Palace pressure but Tarkowski and Michael Keane, especially, kept Christian Benteke very quiet. The Belgian was replaced on 71 minutes after failing to influence the game.

Wilfried Zaha was Palace's only real dangerous outlet and he wanted a penalty with 11 minutes remaining when Jon Flanagan came through the back of him but referee Bobby Madley judged that the defender got a toe to the ball. Minutes later, Burnley doubled their advantage with a classy counter attack.

Sloppy passing in midfield was seized upon by George Boyd and he hit a majestic pass in behind for Gray, who steadied himself and fired past Hennessey at his near post.


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