Ashley Barnes scored a dramatic late winner to earn Burnley a 1-0 victory over Stoke City that propelled Sean Dyche's side into the Premier League's top four.
Stoke were minutes away from clinching a precious draw after a performance that was much improved on their showing in a 5-1 defeat to Tottenham last time out, but substitute Barnes took the second opportunity that fell his way to win it for the Clarets.
Potters manager Mark Hughes called for his side to show a "stronger mentality" at Turf Moor than they had against Spurs and Stoke rose to the challenge, matching Burnley until the last five minutes of the contest.
Hughes recalled veteran striker Peter Crouch to his starting 11 and he repaid the faith shown in him by giving Burnley defender James Tarkowski a torrid evening under the watchful eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.
On a cold, wet Lancashire evening, both sides sustained injuries with Burnley full-back Stephen Ward limping off towards the end of the first half and Stoke defender Kurt Zouma following him down the tunnel mid-way through the second.
After being shut out for much of the game, Burnley ramped up the pressure in the last 10 minutes and Jack Cork's long ball found Barnes, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the box.
Xherdan Shaqiri stung Nick Pope's palms with a firm shot from the edge of the box after two minutes and Stoke continued to pile forward early on, with Crouch almost bundling Ramadan Sobhi's cross in at the far post moments later as the ball flashed past the post.
Stoke denied Burnley a sight of goal until the 22nd minute when Butland spilled Scott Arfield's cross but Johann Berg Gudmundsson failed to react quickly enough to capitalise on the error.
Mame Biram Diouf hit the side-netting with a shot from a tight angle having been forced wide by Tarkowski after neat build-up play by Crouch and Shaqiri on 27 minutes.
Burnley improved towards the end of the first half and Gudmundsson curled over the crossbar from the right side of the penalty area, but they lost Ward to injury five minutes before the break and Charlie Taylor came on for his Premier League debut.
The second half began like the first, with Shaqiri shooting straight at Pope from the edge of the penalty area and the Swiss playmaker then had an appeal for handball against Taylor waved away by the referee.
"The game was as ugly as the weather, but it's one of the most pleasing results of the season." pic.twitter.com/A1cJhqJKdL— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 12, 2017
Stoke lost Zouma to injury shortly after the hour mark after appearing to pull his hamstring while chasing a loose ball, and Burnley started to threaten for a winner as Steven Defour looped a shot into the arms of Butland from 20 yards.
Ryan Shawcross denied Chris Wood a clear chance on goal when he made a vital clearance as Burnley surged forward on 71 minutes and Dyche sent on Barnes to try and force a breakthrough.
Barnes fired tamely wide with his first opportunity, but, with one minute left on the clock, he deftly controlled Cork's long pass and played a one-two with Arfield before lashing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to send the home fans wild at the end.
Key Opta stats:
- Excluding the first two days of this season when not all the teams had played, Burnley last found themselves in the top-flight top four back on March 21st 1975 (3rd).
- This is Stoke's worst Premier League campaign after 17 games, with just 16 points accrued.
- Premier League games at Turf Moor this season have produced just 10 goals in total (in nine games), five fewer than any other ground.
- Only Manchester United (9) have kept more Premier League clean sheets than the Clarets this season (8).
23 de enero 2019
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