Burnley failed to reach the group stages of the UEFA Europa League following a 4-2 aggregate loss to Olympiakos at Turf Moor on Thursday evening.
The Clarets put in a stunning showing throughout the evening and could well have overturned their deficit but for poor finishing. Numerous chances came and went for Sean Dyche’s men before their hopes were all-but dashed with a smart finish from Daniel Podence. Matej Vydra struck in the closing stages but it was not enough for Burnley to overcome their first-leg defeat.
Burnley penalty appeals fall on deaf ears
Despite an early chance in which Podence wasted an opportunity after intercepting a poor pass from Burnley debutant Dwight McNeil, the hosts were much the better side in the opening period.
There were appeals for a penalty as Sam Vokes was seemingly nudged in the area by Konstantinos Tsimikas as he was chipped through by Ashley Barnes but the referee was unmoved. The Welsh forward was then involved in Burnley’s first, real opportunity as he latched onto Ben Mee’s knock-down from a corner. He attempted an acrobatic effort that looped over the bar.
Vokes struggles in front of goal
The hosts should have gone ahead through their big striker as he somehow put a header wide. Teed up by an excellent cross from McNeil, Vokes leapt ahead of his marker but could not hit the target, instead planting the ball firmly into the advertising hoardings.
Opportunities continued to come and go for Dyche’s men, and it was anyone’s guess how they were not ahead within the opening half an hour. First, Jeff Hendrick was denied only yards out before Vokes then went close yet again from a corner but the ball came at him too quickly and his reaction header flew over the bar.
Greeks grow into the game before half-time
There was a fraught moment as Podence’s pace again tested the Clarets’ backline but he sent his second effort crashing into the side-netting after Phil Bardsley blocked his initial shot.
The visitors started to build some momentum towards the break and looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Miguel Ángel Guerrero was the next to have a try but sent the ball straight into the arms of Heaton. Podence should really have given the Greek outfit the lead with only minutes to go until half-time. The Portuguese was picked out with an excellent centre, controlled on the penalty spot but somehow put his finish high over the crossbar.
Barnes was also guilty of spurning a guilt-edged chance. The former Brighton man was found again by McNeil but his low shot dribbled wide of the far post with Olympiakos stopper Andreas Gianniotis flat-footed.
Burnley unfortunate not to open the scoring
Vokes’ luck in front of goal did not appear to return in the second-half. The Welshman was teed up by Barnes and let-fly with a first-time effort that then crashed off of the post. McNeil, who was brilliant all game, also tested the goalkeeper with a stunning effort from the range that he just pawed over the crossbar.
Sloppy defending from the visitors gifted Hendrick acres of room in the penalty area but he was just unable to pick out Barnes as Burnley pushed for a much-needed goal. Aaron Lennon then wasted two golden chances as he first chose to cross when unmarked in the area before he was muscled off of the ball in the area only minutes later.
Too little too late for Burnley
As the cliché went, the hosts were made to pay for all of their wasted opportunities as Podence opened the scoring for Olympiakos against the run of play. The goal was predictably on the counter-attack as the striker was played through by Fortounis. He cut inside and buried the ball beyond Heaton to nick the lead.
Matej Vydra, who was introduced as a substitute to make his Burnley debut, equalised for the Clarets from a goalmouth scramble. From a corner, the ball bounced in front of goal and the Czech bundled the ball in to finally get the goal that the Clarets so richly deserved. Despite that, they were not able to reduce the deficit and bowed out of the Europa League admirably.
What an effort from Burnley. Most will be scratching their heads at how they did not manage to get on the scoresheet more. The Clarets carved open Olympiakos on numerous occasions and will really regret their poor finishing. The cruel blow of Podence’s goal really finished their chances of qualification despite a brilliant showing.
They are now forced to focus on their Premier League campaign, whilst Olympiakos take their place in the group stages.
Burnley: Heaton (6); Taylor (7), Mee (7), Long (6), Bardsley (6); McNeil (8) (Wood (6), 75′), Hendrick (7), Westwood (7), Lennon (7) (Cork (6), 75′); Barnes (7) (Vydra (7), 65′), Vokes (8).
Olympiakos: Gianniotis (6); Tsimikas (6), Vukovic (7), Miranda (5), Elabdellaoui (6); Bouchalakis (6), Camara (6); Podence (7), Fortounis (7) (Torosidis (N/A), 88′), Lazaros (6); Guerrero (5) (Hassan 6(), 72′).
Goals: Podence (83′), Vydra (86′)
Referee: Viktor Kassai
Yellow Cards: Barnes (50′), Westwood (63′), Tsimikas (67′), Gianniotis (78′), Bardsley (79′), Bouchalakis (87′), Mee (88′)
Red Cards: N/A
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