Report and free match highlights as Burnley complete devastating turnaround at Watford to boost survival hopes
Saturday 30 April 2022 21:56, UK
Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill scored twice in a dramatic final 10 minutes at Vicarage Road to give Burnley a crucial 2-1 victory and all but confirm Watford's relegation from the Premier League.
Norwich, who lost 2-0 at Aston Villa, were relegated as a result of the Clarets' late turnaround as Watford became the first side in top-flight history to lose 11 consecutive home league games and are now 12 points adrift of safety with four matches to play.
The hosts led from the eighth minute after James Tarkowski inadvertently turned the ball into his own net as Juraj Kucka's shot came back off the crossbar.
But Burnley, now with three wins in four unbeaten matches under caretaker boss Mike Jackson, rallied in the second half before finally levelling through Cork's diving header in the 82nd minute.
And four minutes later they grabbed the winner when Brownhill passed the ball into the net from the edge of the area to give their survival hopes another massive boost and move five points above the relegation zone.
Watford caught Burnley cold in the Vicarage Road sunshine. Kucka saw his shot from inside the box crash against the underside of the crossbar before it bounced back off the helpless Tarkowski and into the net.
Roy Hodgson made three changes to his Watford side that lost 5-1 at Manchester City last weekend.
Joao Pedro replaced Josh King up front, who dropped to the bench.
Tom Cleverley was not in the squad as Juraj Kucka came into the team for him having missed the City game. So too did Kiko Femenia with Jeremy Ngakia making way.
Burnley caretaker manager Mike Jackson dropped matchwinner Matej Vydra, but ended up starting him anyway.
The striker scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Wolves last Sunday, but Aaron Lennon took his place until Jay Rodriguez pulled out just before kick-off.
Maxwel Cornet was unavailable last week and was still out with a knee injury.
Watford's Kiko Femenia also hit a post direct from an inswinging corner as Burnley's dreadful start continued, but the visitors thought they had a penalty when Dwight McNeil was tripped by Moussa Sissoko. The VAR intervened, though, ruling the midfielder was fouled less than a yard outside the box.
Burnley could only improve in the second half and within 60 seconds Ben Foster was pushing away a shot from Aaron Lennon. Despite their better start, the Clarets had Nick Pope to thank for denying Kucka with a brilliant flying save.
Wout Weghorst was subbed after an hour and was still shaking his head at the decision five minutes later when he was sat on the bench. Jackson's decision was almost justified when Weghorst's replacement Ashley Barnes saw his close-range header from a corner superbly pushed onto the crossbar by Foster and then hooked clear a yard from the goalline.
Burnley dominated possession in the second half while Watford manager Roy Hodgson refused to make a substitute which was eventually punished in the closing stages. Charlie Taylor delivered a superb cross from the left which was thumped in by Cork's diving header at the back post.
The visitors could sense a winner which arrived just four minutes later courtesy of Brownhill, who side-footed the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Watford: Foster (7), Louza (6), Pedro (7), Kamara (6), Sissoko (6), Femenia (6), Samir (6), Sarr (6), Dennis (6), Kabasele (6), Kucka (6).
Burnley: Pope (7), Taylor (7), Cork (7), Tarkowski (6), Brownhill (7), Weghorst (5), McNeil (7), Roberts (7), Lennon (6), Vydra (6), Collins (6).
Subs: Lowton (n/a), Barnes (6), Stephens (n/a)
Man of the match: Josh Brownhill
Burnley fans call him the plant-based Pirlo and their vegan midfielder Josh Brownhill delivered a performance the Italian would have been proud of. He was tireless in the centre of the park before keeping a cool head to control the winner past Ben Foster late on.
Watford assistant manager Ray Lewington: "You saw the fear factor that exists at this place. I don't know why because the crowd were terrific today. It's a consequence of losing so many games that I think with the finishing line in sight we started to get deeper and deeper, and you just can't do that.
"You can't play Russian Roulette trying to defend your penalty area, it's impossible. We showed our naivety and as a consequence we lose two goals in the last 10 minutes. It's just the fear factor, we've seen it so many times this year and this was probably the extreme today.
"Confidence was low when we got here. They were down the bottom and hadn't won for a long time, you could see it. We tried to get them better organised and they have done better in games, but we've missed some chances that you can't do in the Premier League and let in some sloppy goals. It's not a great recipe. We're playing for our pride now."
Burnley caretaker manager Mike Jackson: "We improved from what we were doing in the first half. I don't think we started the game as well as we could do. At half-time we spoke as a group saying we needed to do more, if everybody lifted it 15, 20 per cent we thought we could get back into the game.
"We knew they might be a little bit fragile in the second half. At this stage of the season it's about finding a way to win games and I'm delighted with them again. They keep fighting, they keep working, they keep being honest and you'll get your rewards in the end.
"I don't know where it puts us, I don't look at the table, that might sound a bit mad, but I don't. We move onto the next game now."
Sky Sports' David Richardson at Vicarage Road:
Watford will be relegated not just as a result of their dismal home record, but because firing multiple managers in a season will rarely achieve Premier League survival.
The last time they dropped out of the top-flight in 2020 came after they had axed bosses Javi Gracia, Quique Sánchez Flores and Nigel Pearson. Now, after firing Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri they are on the brink of heading straight back down.
Watford became the first side in top-flight history to lose 11 consecutive home league games as they imploded against Burnley by conceding twice in the final 10 minutes.
"You saw the fear factor that exists at this place," said assistant manager Ray Lewington in the aftermath of the defeat which leaves them 12 points adrift of safety with four games remaining.
"Confidence was low when we got here," he added after Ranieri won just two games from 14 attempts. Manager Roy Hodgson and Lewington, despite their vast experience, have been unable to make any sort of impact.
Hodgson remained seated throughout the Burnley match due to illness, but even when his side went 2-1 down with four minutes remaining, plus added time, he did not make a substitute.
"We just didn't feel the change would make any difference, we kept it as it was in the hope that we could create something going forward," said Lewington, a damning verdict on the Watford squad. Perhaps more could be invested into signing players if they stopped hiring and firing.
May 7 - Aston Villa (h)
May 15 - Tottenham (a)
May 19 - Aston Villa (a)
May 22 - Newcastle (h)
Watford travel to Crystal Palace next weekend as their bid for Premier League safety continues. The Hornets then have home matches against Everton and Leicester before going to Chelsea on the final day of the season.
Burnley will look to maintain their position just above the relegation zone against Aston Villa next Wednesday. The Clarets travel to Tottenham and Aston Villa later in May before hosting Newcastle for their final game of the campaign.