Burnley took another giant stride towards Premier League survival as Chris Wood’s brace sealed a hard-earned 2-0 win over Cardiff City at Turf Moor on Saturday.
New Zealand international Wood added a stoppage-time tap-in to his first-half header as Sean Dyche’s side moved 11 points clear of the 18th-placed Bluebirds.
Cardiff, frustrated by unfavourable refereeing decisions in last month’s loss to Chelsea, will feel aggrieved after having multiple penalty appeals turned down.
The most contentious decision was match official Mike Dean’s reversal of a spot-kick for handball against Ben Mee that left Neil Warnock incredulous and his team closer to the drop.
Wood issued an early warning when he nodded against the upright following Dwight McNeil’s free-kick in the second minute.
The visitors failed to heed the lesson, letting the striker go untracked as he headed home winger McNeil’s inswinging corner in the 31st minute.
Chris Wood points @BurnleyOfficial in the right direction with the opening goal
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 13, 2019
Burnley should have been further ahead before the break, but Ashley Westwood squandered two one-on-one opportunities either side of the opener.
Cardiff displayed renewed vigour in the early stages of the second half and looked to have won a penalty when Mee headed the ball into his own arm, the defender having only moments earlier been struck in the hand by a close-range Harry Arter shot.
Referee Dean pointed to the spot followed the second incident but reversed the decision after consulting with his assistant referee, infuriating Warnock.
Arter then skimmed a curling shot across the top of the crossbar, before an unmarked Junior Hoilett blazed over from Kenneth Zohore’s cut-back.
Cardiff’s frustration reached fever pitch at the death as Wood tapped in McNeil’s deflected cross following claims that Bruno Ecuele Manga’s shot struck James Tarkowski’s arm at the other end.
What does it mean? Bluebirds sliding towards the brink
Though they battled bravely here, the inescapable truth is that Cardiff are showing relegation form.
The Welsh side have now lost six of their last seven matches, a run that puts them at long odds to escape the bottom three.
More class from McNeil
Consistency is the challenge for young players and the emerging McNeil clearly has that at a tender age.
The 19-year-old’s set-pieces posed regular problems for a Cardiff side not short on size and it was his excellent delivery that set up Wood’s opener, while he also provided the assist for the striker’s second.
Hoilett to blame for big miss
One of Hoilett’s few attacking contributions was to pass up the best of Cardiff’s chances, the attacker culpable for a terrible miss with time and space just beyond the hour.
Cardiff remain on the road as they visit Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday. Burnley, in contrast, have over a week to prepare for their clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on April 22.
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