Substitute Ashley Barnes pounced four minutes into injury time, to grab another last-ditch three points for Burnley, in a five-goal thriller against Crystal Palace.
Palace’s fourth straight defeat had looked increasingly likely early on, after Sam Vokes and Gudmundsson fired the Clarets into a 2-0 lead inside the first quarter of an hour. However, the visitors managed to haul themselves back through Connor Wickham and Christian Benteke – only for Barnes to smash the winner from a Johann Gudmundsson cross. Connor Wickham reduced the deficit with his first touch, after replacing Jason Puncheon on the hour mark. Benteke then looked to have sealed the Eagles’ revival, before Barnes intervened in spectacular fashion.
Burnley grabbed the lead with less than two minutes on the clock, when Matthew Lowton broke directly from a Palace corner and crossed for Gudmundsson – whose ball back into the box was eventually tapped home from close range by Vokes.
Palace responded by forcing a second corner, from which Joel Ward came close. Benteke then set up Jason Puncheon for a rasping effort, which was well saved by Heaton at the second attempt. Heaton, star of the Clarets’ goalless draw at Old Trafford last week, saved his side again two minutes later, when he produced a great low save to deny Wilfried Zaha.
But the Eagles’ pressing came at a price, as they left themselves alarmingly open to the counter-attack, and it was a weakness Burnley exposed again in the 14th minute. Gudmundsson burst clear of the Palace defence and drove a shot from 25 yards, which squirmed beneath hapless keeper Steve Mandanda and bounced twice before ending up in the net.
The visitors were shell-shocked to find themselves 2-0 down, but persevered, with Townsend next to blaze a clear chance over the bar from a Ward corner. Benteke missed two golden chances to reduce the deficit in the dying minutes of the first half, and Pardew’s half-time team talk did not seem to have counted for much when the Clarets made the brighter start to the second half.
Vokes was at the centre of most of their forays forward. His effort from a tight angle was saved twice by Mandanda, as Hendrick rushed in to assist, then blazed another effort high and wide from eight yards. Pardew had no choice but to act and he did, with a double substitution. It paid off spectacularly just before the hour mark, as Wickham slammed his first goal of the season into the roof of the net from a Yohan Cabaye cross.
After surviving a spell of Burnley pressure, Palace grabbed their equaliser in the 82nd minute, when Lowton handled a Townsend ball into the box, and Benteke stepped up to hit the leveller past Heaton – only for Barnes to dash their hopes at the death. There was still time for Townsend to be denied by a post, but Burnley held on to the three points in a frantic finish.
Burnley boss, Sean Dyche:
“I think we deserved the points by the final whistle. It was a real ding-dong of a game. Both teams went at it and I’ve been really pleased with the mentality of the group to finish in such a good way.
“I thought we played with confidence, although at 2-0 we were a little bit nervy, and I was happy with the fantastic finish from Ashley Barnes.
“It’s fantastic to be ninth in the table for a club like Burnley. There are questions asked of us in the Premier League but we’re enjoying the ride.”
Crystal Palace boss, Alan Pardew:
“We’ve made errors for the goals but played well and it frustrates me to say that. It’s daft mistakes which have cost us. I think we got carried away at 2-2 and over committed at a set play and it cost us.
“This defeat is a big blow for us because we have some tough games coming up. We’re going to have to be strong after the international break and get some results. We dominated and actually played some good football today.
“We don’t look like a team that has lost four games, it’s been fine margins. We need to cut out these mistakes, and get ourselves to a position where we can see out a game.”