Burnley launched a stirring comeback with two goals in the last 10 minutes earning a priceless victory in their quest to beat the drop. The result condemned Watford to a top-flight record 11th successive home defeat.
Seven points from three previous matches under Burnley’s interim manager Mike Jackson, following the surprise dismissal of Sean Dyche, had lifted the team outside the relegation places and their powers of recovery continued with this dramatic turnaround.
Late goals from Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill effectively relegated Watford and also provided a huge boost to Burnley’s survival hopes, stretching their advantage over 18th-placed Everton to five points.
Burnley were forced into a late change just before kick-off with Jay Rodriguez, injured in the warmup, replaced in their attack by the former Watford forward Matej Vydra. The home side started with a purpose and intensity which was not in keeping with a team on an abject losing run at Vicarage Road stretching back to November.
Roy Hodgson has claimed Watford have been unlucky on several occasions, during their miserable run, but fortune certainly favored them with the opening goal. Kiko Femenía’s cross was thundered towards goal by Juraj Kucka and the midfielder’s strike cannoned back off the crossbar, then into the net via James Tarkowski.
Burnley were cursing their luck but Watford’s breakthrough was rewarded for their early intensity which has been sorely lacking during a bleak winter. There was a verve and energy to Watford’s play which bamboozled Burnley in the early stages. João Pedro broke through on goal, following a long punt down the pitch by Ben Foster, but the forward blasted his shot over Nick Pope’s crossbar.
The referee, Craig Pawson, awarded a penalty to Burnley midway through the first half for a challenge by Moussa Sissoko on Dwight McNeil. Watford earned a reprieve, however, with VAR ruling Sissoko’s foul came marginally outside the area. McNeil blasted his free-kick against the wall to emphasize a frustrating first half-hour for Burnley.
Emmanuel Dennis’s persistence almost paid off for Watford with the forward forcing Pope into a save at his near post. Pope also had to be alert to push Imran Louza’s free-kick to safety at the end of the first half.
Burnley spurned a glorious chance to equalize immediately after the restart with Aaron Lennon bursting clear but the winger’s low shot was superbly saved by Foster. Watford hit back and the industrious Kucka was only denied a goal by Pope’s parry and the midfielder’s follow-up effort was blocked.
The visitors sensed a way back into this match, exerting increasing control as the contest progressed but Watford still offered an occasional threat on the counterattack. Hodgson’s side appeared content to drop deep and play on the break but their inability to keep a clean sheet at home in the league this season was fraying the nerves of the home supporters.
Ashley Barnes’s close-range header from a corner was turned on to the crossbar by the excellent Foster. But Burnley’s pressure eventually told late on with Charlie Taylor’s sweeping cross headed into the net by Cork against his former club.
Burnley sensed Watford had run out of steam and the rampant visitors struck again with Vydra teeing up Brownhill for his fierce winning strike.
Watford’s unwanted record was another grim day for their sorry supporters but Burnley have all the momentum, after three successive wins, and Everton could struggle to catch them in this mood.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism