Burnley eased their relegation fears with a 3-1 victory at Bournemouth that took them to the brink of preserving their Premier League status.
With five remaining fixtures, they moved up to the relative safety of 14th to sit eight points clear of the bottom three and Cardiff, who Burnley play next and who – even with a game in hand – will likely consider Southampton and Brighton more realistic victims in their own push for survival.
An afternoon that had begun disastrously with Ashley Barnes’ early own goal concluded with Sean Dyche’s team also two points from 13th-placed Bournemouth, whose poor form is undermining their fine start to the season.
Barnes even scored their third goal after Chris Wood and Ashley Westwood had given them the half-time lead.
If the hosts had been lacking in confidence following their disappointing run of only one victory in eight – one that began after the 4-0 victory over Chelsea that is expected to remain the highlight of their season – they received the early gift of an own goal on which they could build.
It was in only the fourth minute when, from a free-kick on the left wing, Ryan Fraser classily curled the ball into the area to Jefferson Lerma, whose header towards Nathan Ake was then headed in by the under pressure Barnes beyond the diving Tom Heaton and inside the far left post.
Burnley swiftly regrouped, and quickly put their opponents under pressure in a way that suggested further goals were imminent.
Desperate defending from Nathaniel Clyne gave them a left-wing corner in the 18th minute, and when Westwood then curled towards the back post, his delivery – perhaps aided by the windy conditions – floated high beyond the stranded Asmir Begovic, leaving Wood to routinely nod into a near-open goal.
It took only a further two minutes for them to then take the lead, after Bournemouth had again offered too little resistance.
When the lively Dwight McNeil sent a low cross from the left wing into the area, Chris Mepham’s weak attempt at a clearance went only as far as Westwood, who near the penalty spot had the space to shoot first time with power into the bottom-right corner.
Callum Wilson should then have brought Bournemouth level, when from a similarly kind position in front of goal he headed narrowly over after Joshua King combined with David Brooks for the latter to cross, but they otherwise encountered a resilient defence.
Wood had also threatened with another header that looped onto the top netting when, in the second half, Burnley extended their lead to put all three points beyond doubt.
In possession on the left in the 57th minute, and amid protests from the hosts that he had run the ball out of play, Charlie Taylor crossed towards Begovic, who under pressure from Wood at the near post spilt the ball to the striker, from where he teed up Barnes for the easy finish that secured victory.
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