Burnley moved eight points clear of relegation rivals Huddersfield Town after an Ashley Barnes winner earned the Clarets a 2-1 victory in a tetchy contest that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
The hosts survived a number of scares before Steve Mounie’s first Premier League goal of the season gave them the lead, only for Chris Wood to restore parity five minutes before the interval with his 100th league goal in English football.
There was still time for Christopher Schindler to get sent-off for his second bookable offence before the break but David Wagner’s men emerged for the second half with a plan to frustrate Burnley and it worked for almost half an hour.
But, just as Huddersfield sensed their first point in eight matches might be in the offing, Barnes finished a sweeping Burnley move with his fourth league goal of the season and lifted the visitors two points clear of the bottom three, despite Robbie Brady being given his marching orders in the last minute.
100 – Chris Wood’s leveller for Burnley was his 100th goal in English league football (8 in League One, 78 in Championship, 14 in Premier League). Century. pic.twitter.com/uAFO2VQvUJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 2, 2019
The hosts took the lead after 33 minutes, Isaac Mbenza floating a curling cross to the far post where Charlie Taylor had failed to pick up Mounie and the Beninese striker powered a header beyond Tom Heaton and into the net from close range.
Burnley equalised six minutes later when the lively Dwight McNeil escaped down the left before delivering a low cross that Wood side-footed home from point blank range.
McNeil burst forward as Burnley mounted their next attack but he was brought down by Schindler, who was shown his second yellow card of the evening and left his team-mates to battle on with a one-man disadvantage.
Wood blazed a free header wide at the far post when he met Ashley Westwood’s corner early in the second half and Johann Gudmundsson fired straight at Jonas Lossl in a one-on-one as the Clarets probed for a winner.
It arrived in some style, Wood squaring to Westwood just outside the box and he fed Barnes, who took a touch before sliding a side-footed shot past Lossl from 12 yards.
Brady received a straight red card when he scythed down Mbenza in the dying moments of the game, but Philip Billing fired over the crossbar with the ensuing free-kick and Burnley survived to claim all three points.
What does it mean? Wagner on thin ice
Eight straight defeats would put any Premier League manager under pressure, even one as well-liked and well-supported as David Wagner. While opposite number Sean Dyche is pulling his side away from the drop zone, Huddersfield’s time to turn things around is running out and the board might decide Wagner is not the man to save them.
McNeil looks the real deal
Sean Dyche only gave him an hour but McNeil was the Clarets’ most dangerous player for the time he was on the field. He might be second choice to Brady when the Irishman is fully fit but his suspension could give McNeil the chance to claim a regular place in the starting XI.
Schindler spoils strong start
The way Schindler protested his sending-off suggested he did not know he had already been booked 11 minutes earlier for a foul on Wood. His wreckless challenge on McNeil gave Burnley the advantage they needed at a crucial moment in the game.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 2, 2019
– Huddersfield have suffered eight consecutive league defeats for the first time in their history.
– Before tonight, Burnley had lost all 12 Premier League games this season in which they’d conceded the first goal of the match.
– Since the start of last season, only Leicester City (9) have received more Premier League red cards than Huddersfield Town (6 – level with Watford).
– Burnley’s Ashley Barnes has been involved in three goals in his last four Premier League games (two goals, one assist), more than in his previous 18 combined (two goals).
Huddersfield travel to Championship club Bristol City in the FA Cup on Saturday, while Burnley entertain Barnsley.
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