Sako goal gives Palace edge over Burnley


Crystal Palace have now lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games

Bakary Sako scored the only goal as Crystal Palace continued their revival under Roy Hodgson with victory over Burnley at Selhurst Park.

The Mali international cut in powerfully from the left after good work by Christian Benteke and then drilled a left-footed shot that went straight through Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Palace almost doubled their advantage from the restart when Ben Mee cleared from under his own crossbar, with James McArthur lurking.

The visitors introduced new loan signing Georges-Kevin Nkoudou in search of an equaliser, but Palace held on to secure a sixth Premier League win under Hodgson and move away from the relegation zone.

Palace lay down a marker

Palace’s previous meeting with Burnley spelled the end of Hodgson’s predecessor, Frank de Boer, so this was a real marker for their progress under the former England boss.

Under the 70-year-old’s stewardship, the south London club now have 25 points from his 19 games in charge, despite having failed to take any points – or even score a goal – in their first seven matches this season.

After the reverse fixture, Palace chairman Steve Parish caused a stir by asking his Twitter followers: “Who has the better squad, us or Burnley?”. But on the evidence of this match, it was clearly the former.

They hustled Burnley – who are seventh in the table – and looked the more likely to add to the score sheet, with Wilfried Zaha’s passing carving open Sean Dyche’s side on a number of occasions and Timothy Fosu-Mensah delivering in both defence and attack.

And this from a side who started the match without eight first-team regulars, including Jeffrey Schlupp, Andros Townsend, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mamadou Sakho.

There can be no doubt that the Clarets were the success story of the first half of the season, but on this showing Palace will surely feel they can win more plaudits between now and May as they continue to move away from the relegation zone.

Bakary Sako has now scored six goals in all competitions this season – more than any other Crystal Palace player.

Has Burnley’s bubble burst?

Last Saturday’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City was a rare humbling for Dyche’s Burnley in this 2017-18 season.

The manager will have wanted a response from his side, and should feel they gave him one despite being unable to take advantage of what few chances they did create.

However, that cup exit combined with a run of six league games without a win, has seen hopes of keeping pace with the top six dwindle over the past month and the Clarets now run the risk of their season fizzling out.

It is a mark of Burnley’s performances this season that their winless run is such a talking point but, though they remain seventh, they have now lost their first three competitive matches of a calendar year for the first time since 1987 – and have a meeting with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Turf Moor next on the horizon.

Dyche said he was “not concerned” by their latest defeat at full-time, but more of a worry – and surely something that is in the minds of future opponents – the Clarets are now winless in all 49 Premier League matches under Dyche when they have conceded the opening goal, losing 40 of those.

‘We’re looking up – for now’ – what they said

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “It was a massive three points. We knew it would be very, very tough. In the first half we created chances to make life more comfortable for us in the second half.

“We knew they would get stronger and more questions would be asked of our back four and goalkeeper. I’m delighted we were able to withstand that test. They are very good at what they do – a strong team, a physical team.

“At least now we can look at the league table for a week or two without shivers running down our spine.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche: “I think overall we deserved something from the game – a draw really. It was a bit of a ding dong – them better in the first half, us in the second.

“Roy [Hodgson] has the side very organised. They did really well in the first half but we got back on top in the second half. It comes down to a couple of missed chances from us and they have taken one.

“It is a fact we are six without a win. We are Burnley Football Club, we are progressing. We won three out of four just before that. If you mix it up over the season we are moving forward. You have to be the right side of the margins and we just haven’t been this month.”

Pass master Hennessey? – the stats

  • Crystal Palace’s victory was their 50th at home in the Premier League.
  • The Eagles have now kept consecutive home clean sheets in the Premier League – having had just one in their previous 14 at Selhurst Park.
  • Sako has scored more goals in all competitions than any other Crystal Palace player, with his strike on Saturday being his sixth of the season.
  • Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey made more passes than any other Crystal Palace player in the match (36).
  • Only Southampton (10) are on a longer winless run in the Premier League than Burnley (six).

Man of the match – Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace)

As well as scoring the only goal, Sako contributed in defence, regaining possession seven times – more than any other Palace player

What’s next?

Palace will swap south London for north London in their next Premier League fixture, as they travel to Arsenal on Saturday, 20 January (15:00 GMT). Burnley host Manchester United at Turf Moor at the same time.

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