A fantastic day at the Palace
Burnley secured a third away win of the season yesterday at Crystal Palace with the 3-0 scoreline equalling our biggest every away victory in the Premier League alongside the 4-1 win at Hull in 2010, and the 3-0 wins at West Ham and Watford in 2018 and 2019.
Two early goals from Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson and Jay Rodriguez, his first since Anfield last season, made it reasonably comfortable viewing for most of the afternoon, with an astonishing third scored by Matt Lowton just into the second half putting some icing on top of what was a well earned and well deserved cake.
I do miss my away days out but if there is one to be missed then Selhurst Park, and all the issues in getting there, is probably one highest on the list. Even so, I’d much rather have been there than sat at home waiting for the game when the first excitement comes an hour before kick off with the team announcement.
There was always going to be at least one change from the team that had drawn against Brighton a week earlier. Matěj Vydra is the latest to go down with injury and he was replaced with Jay Rodriguez. That was the only change and there was some good news on the bench with both Robbie Brady and Josh Brownhill fit enough to return.
Much has been said recently at our lack of first half goals this season. Let’s be honest, we haven’t scored too many in the second half of games either but there have only been five first half goals with Ben Mee’s against Sheffield United the only one this side of Christmas. Was it significant that one of the five first half goals was Chris Wood’s in the 1-0 home win against Palace?
Five soon became six and before we’d had much time to digest our opener that had become seven with us all but taking the game out of Palace’s reach with less than ten minutes on the clock in what was a superb opening spell from us.
In only the fifth minute, Dwight McNeil and Erik Pieters linked up down the left with Pieters getting in the cross. I think it is fair to say the two Palace defenders Scott Dann and Patrick van Aanholt might have done better with it but the ball dropped for Guðmundsson just inside the six yard box. He stepped out, moved a few yards away from goal and then placed a left foot shot wide of Vicente Guaita and into the far corner. It was a good finish and gave us just the sort of start we wanted.
From that corner, McNeil’s delivery was perfect for Rodriguez who had to do little more than nod the ball into the net and here we were, 2-0 up away from home with less than ten minutes gone. It was Jay’s first league goal since the one he got at Liverpool last season and I believe this is the earliest we’ve gone two goals up in a Premier League away game, beating the 13 minutes it took at Stoke in 2014 when we ended up hanging on at 2-1 after Jonathan Walters had pulled one back.
We didn’t look as though we were going to be hanging on in this one and for much of the first half we looked by far and away the better side. It wasn’t all one traffic, they did force Nick Pope into one routine save and for the last ten minutes of the half they got far too much possession of the ball for my liking, albeit without doing too much with it and by half time we looked more than comfortable with our two goal lead, little knowing just what was to come in the opening two minutes of the second half.
Goals are goals, no matter which way you look at them, be they 30 yarders or a toe poke from a yard out, they all count the same. So when we made it 3-0 in the second minute of the second half it was, I suppose, just another goal. Not on your life was this just another goal.
Then, this. After a bit of play up and down our right hand side he picked the ball up just a couple of feet beyond the half way line and started to move forward. He went past Luka Milivojevic on the outside and then brushed off Van Aanholt on the inside before playing the ball across to Jay Rod in the centre and just outside the box. Lowton didn’t stop, he kept going into the box and when Jay Rod chipped the ball back, he sensationally volleyed into the far corner.
With no disrespect to Lowts, I had to look twice to make sure it was him and then the television camera zoomed in on Sean Dyche and Tony Loughlan who both looked stunned. Co-commentator Efan Ekoku said: “VAR will obviously take a look at it but I sincerely hope he’s onside, as neutrals we love to see goals like this.” Ekoku, like we were, was delighted to see that Lowton was some way onside.
That really was game over. It might have been more. With little response from Palace, Barnes saw a shot deflect off Jay Rod straight to the goalkeeper, Jay himself shot wide and Ashley Westwood, set up by Barnes, fired a shot wide. The only response of any note from Palace came when substitute Andros Townsend fired a shot over the bar, this after their two inept Belgian strikers had departed.
Whether Palace thought this was an opportunity to salvage something or whether we just settled, I don’t know, but we did have some defending to do in those last few minutes. I’m sure by then we’d decided that Pope was going to have his eighth clean sheet of the season and we made absolutely sure that was to be the case.
One more goal at the other end would, of course, have meant a new record victory for us in the Premier League but I doubt many Burnley fans would be too concerned about that.
This really was a superb performance from the Clarets. Lowton, his goal apart, continued the outstanding form he’s been showing recently, but he wasn’t the only top performer on the day. I think you would find it difficult to pick anything but positives from this performance. It’s not often I’m relaxed sitting watching us in front of a television screen. That was as relaxed as it is possible to be.
And just for the record, Lowton’s goal was also a significant in that it was our 250th in the Premier League.
Finally, on what was an outstandingly good day for our club, it was so sad to hear of the passing of former Palace player Alan Woan at the age of 90. Alan was also dad to our assistant manager Ian Woan. My thoughts are with Ian and his family at this very sad time for them.
The teams were;
Crystal Palace: Vicente Guaita, Nathaniel Clyne, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Scott Dann, Patrick van Aanholt, Jordan Ayew, Luka Milivojevic, Jairo Riedewald, Eberechi Eze, Michy Batshuayi (Andros Townsend 62), Christian Benteke (Jean-Philippe Mateta 76). Subs not used: Jack Butland, Joel Ward, Gary Cahill, Martin Kelly, Tyrick Mitchell.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee (Kevin Long 84), Erik Pieters (Phil Bardsley 87), Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Robbie Brady 72), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Dale Stephens, Josh Brownhill, Joel Mumbongo.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).