Ben Mee’s second-half header was enough to earn Burnley a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace to boost the Clarets’ hopes of securing European football for next season.
After a turgid first half, Burnley captain Mee stooped to head his side into the lead in the 62nd minute, marking his 300th appearance with his first goal since January 2017 – a strike that ended up deciding the contest.
Palace never really got going, and offered very little as an attacking force. Jordan Ayew headed their best attempt at an equaliser over the top.
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The win moves Burnley up to the lofty position of eighth in the table, level on points with Tottenham in seventh, and with Manchester City’s ban from European competition in place as things stand, an eighth-place finish way well be enough to earn Burnley Europa League football in 2020/21.
The visitors, who again had only youngsters and goalkeepers on the bench, had the better of the action in the first half, but neither side created any real openings of note. This pair of sides have managed just 19 first-half goals all season.
After the break there was a lengthy VAR check for a potential serious foul play against Ayew, which he got away with, before Mee met Ashley Westwood’s free-kick to win the match for his side. Vicente Guaita got a good hand to the header, and should really have kept it out.
Palace huffed and puffed late on, but did not show any urgency until stoppage time, when it was too little, too late as Burnley march on up the table.
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Sean Dyche and Burnley chairman Mike Garlick are not seeing eye to eye at the moment. A look at Burnley’s bench tells you all you need to know about the limited resources Dyche is having to work with. However, even with an injury-depleted squad, and a bunch of schoolboys the only options in reserve, Dyche is still working his magic. One defeat in 10 now for Burnley, and they have their manager’s immense organisation to thank for it.
MAN OF THE MATCH - BEN MEE
He grabbed the headlines for striking the right tone in response to those deplorable scenes at Manchester City, but Mee lead by example on the pitch at Selhurst Park. His header for the winner was a bullet, but his defensive work was spot on all night.
Palace: Guaita 5, Van Aanholt 6, Dann 6, Cahill 6, Ward 6, McArthur 6, Milivojevic 4, Kouyate 4, Townsend 5, Ayew 5, Zaha 3. Subs: Meyer 5, McCarthy 6.
Burnley: Pope 7, Taylor 6, Tarkowski 8, Mee 8, Pieters 6, Bardsley 7, Cork 7, Brownhill 7, Westwood 6, McNeil 7, Vydra 6. Subs: Long 6.
20’ - SCRAMBLE! Westwood curls an excellent corner into the middle, which causes Palace all kinds of problems. Between them, the Palace back line manage to scramble the ball clear as far as McNeil, who shoots over.
54’ - CHANCE!!! As good an opening as we have had. Lovely back-heel flick from Ayew into the path of Cahill on the edge of the box, who can only side-foot for the bottom corner, which is saved by Pope. If he had put everything behind that we might have had the opener.
62’ - GOOOOOOAAALLLLL!!! Palace 0-1 Burnley. Captain's goal from Ben Mee to break the deadlock here. Goalkeeper, goalkeeper, goalkeeper. Free-kick into the middle is met by Mee with a powerful header, the ball arrows towards the bottom corner, Guaita looks like he is getting there, but he can only parry onto the post and watch on as the ball rolls into the net.
79’ - CHANCE! As close as Palace have come to an equaliser. Great cross from Zaha, Ayew climbs highest, but cannot keep the header down from a good position.
90+2’ - SAVE! Pope again comes for the cross, gets more on it this time, but only finds Van Aanholt, who fires for goal, but Pope gets to his feet to make the save.
Crystal Palace have lost three of their last five Premier League home games (W2), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 13 at Selhurst Park in the top-flight (W5 D5).
Burnley secured their first Premier League win in their last 11 visits to London (D1 L9) and just their fourth overall in the capital in the competition (31 games).
Crystal Palace’s starting line-up had an average age of 30 years and 323 days, the second-oldest in the Premier League this season (after the Eagles against Bournemouth on June 20 – 30y 334d).
Burnley registered their 13th clean sheet of the Premier League season, their most-ever in a campaign in the competition.
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