Burnley wins at Palace, boosts Europa hopes

Nicholas Mendola
NBC Sports

Burnley’s in the thick of another Europa League race after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Monday.

The undermanned Clarets found their winner from a surprising source, as captain Ben Mee headed a classy Ashley Westwood kick home in the second half.

CRYSTAL PALACE – BURNLEY FULL MATCH REPLAY

Burnley’s 45 points are level with seventh-place Tottenham and eighth place may be good enough for the Europa League this season thanks to Man City’s European ban.

Palace stays on 42 points, well clear of the drop zone.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Three things we learned

1. Second half surge? Burnley and Palace are the two-lowest scoring first half clubs in this season’s Premier League, combining for only 19. No. 20 wasn’t even a glint in its father’s eye over the first 45 minutes.

2. Sean Dyche is a marvel: Burnley is again in the race for European football despite its small size and errors in contract talks leaving Dyche with very little depth in a super congested period. We’re not sure Sean Dyche is ever going to win the masses via clever football, but he’s improved upon the Tony Pulis scrappy recipe and is winning matches without the ball. This man will work until he’s ready to retire.

3. Rare match-winner: Ben Mee’s won plenty of points for Burnley by virtue of terrific tackles and clearances alongside fellow star center back James Tarkowski, but goals have been a rarity.

The 30-year-old captain has scored just seven times in 321 career appearances for the Clarets, and his headed winner Monday was his first goal in 112 matches dating back to Jan. 2, 2017. He played 90 minutes in all but one of those contests, and it feels even better after his inspiring response to last week’s ugly incident at the Etihad Stadium.


Man of the Match:

Dwight McNeil — The 20-year-old Burnley star was very good, again. McNeil was stuck into myriad duels, completed four-of-five dribbles and four-of-four long balls.

Crystal Palace – Burnley recap

Wilfried Zaha was active early in his return to the lineup but Burnley saw the first real danger.

The Clarets’ 19th-minute corner kick from Ashley Westwood nearly defied Vicente Guaita before Burnley star Dwight McNeil sailed the rebound over the bar.

Jordan Ayew spun a shot to force Nick Pope into a stooping collection before halftime.

Ayew was at the center of a long VAR review in the 50th minute that concluded with his escaping discipline for a forearm to the face of Josh Brownhill.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Mee put Burnley in front with an excellent header off Ashley Westwood’s free kick, Guaita slow-to-react and getting just a piece of the ball on its way off the post and into the goal.

Burnley lost mainstay midfielder Jack Cork to a leg injury in a hit to its depth it can hardly afford.

Pope made a fine save in stoppage time after he flubbed a parry attempt and Kevin Long blocked the rebound to keep Burnley in front.

Burnley wins at Palace, boosts Europa hopes originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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