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Burnley ease fears with key win at Everton while West Brom slip closer to relegation

Chris Wood and Dwight McNeil got the goals to earn the Clarets a 2-1 victory.

Dwight McNeil celebrates scoring Burnley's second at Goodison.
Dwight McNeil celebrates scoring Burnley's second at Goodison.
Image: PA

Updated Mar 13th 2021, 7:54 PM

BURNLEY EASED THEIR relegation worries with a 2-1 victory over Everton as a third defeat in four at Goodison Park dented their top-four hopes.

Home form is becoming something of an issue on Merseyside: neighbours Liverpool have lost six in a row, Everton have won just one of the last seven in which they have been beaten by bottom-six sides Newcastle, Fulham and now the Clarets.

With fourth-placed Chelsea drawing at Leeds earlier in the day Carlo Ancelotti’s side had the chance to move within two points with a match in hand but they blew it as they were not only out-fought but out-played for large parts as the visitors’ deserved victory moved them seven clear of the bottom three.

Chris Wood and a superb strike from the excellent Dwight McNeil put them 2-0 up inside 25 minutes and it could easily have been more and even Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 14th Premier League goal of the season failed to spark a reaction.

To add more injury to the pain of defeat Everton lost England number one Jordan Pickford to the recurrence of a rib problem.

Burnley, who also ended Liverpool’s long unbeaten home run in January, were terrific in the first half as they refused to be destabilised by Richarlison’s early shot which Nick Pope pushed behind and Everton’s domination of possession without going anywhere and completely against the run of play the visitors took a 13th-minute lead.

Josh Brownhill, excellent throughout, dispossessed Tom Davies deep inside his own half and sent McNeil racing down the left and his deflected cross was clipped home past an unsighted Pickford by Wood.

It was Wood’s 40th Premier League goal for the club, just one behind the only other player to reach that tally team-mate Ashley Barnes, and the first time he had scored in back-to-back games this season.

Everton had won just one of their last 24 home league matches after conceding the first goal and they could easily have found themselves 4-0 down in half an hour.

Visibly aggrieved by what they felt was the clear denial of a penalty when McNeil’s corner hit the raised elbow of Mason Holgate as he challenged Ben Mee Burnley’s intensity increased and they added a brilliant second moments later.

everton-v-burnley-premier-league-goodison-park McNeil celebrates. Source: PA

McNeil, in the inside-right position, easily skipped past the tackle of Allan and advanced unchallenged to curl a superb left-footed effort into the top corner.

Johann Gudmundsson then hit the post with a low shot from distance with Pickford aggravating the problem which saw him miss four matches last month with his despairing dive.

Calvert-Lewin got the hosts back on track in the 32nd minute powering home a close-range header from Davies’ cross for his first goal in five matches and he should have done better with his flicked attempt from Andre Gomes’ free-kick.

Ancelotti had started with Alex Iwobi at the top of a midfield diamond, having said pre-match he wanted the player to tell him his favoured position, but that experiment was soon abandoned as Everton switched to 4-1-3-2 with the Nigeria international moved to the right.

Pickford eventually succumbed to his injury and was replaced by Joao Virginia for his Premier League debut, two and a half years after joining from Arsenal, just before the break.

Like the first half Everton tested Pope early after the interval, the England goalkeeper tipping Gomes’ shot around the post.

However, Burnley still looked to have the greater goal threat with a mix-up between Virginia and Godfrey almost gifting Matej Vydra – who later hit a shot too close to the goalkeeper – a chance while Mee’s header dropped onto the top of the crossbar.

Virginia denied substitute Jay Rodriguez’s angled shot 10 minutes from time but as Everton pushed for the equaliser Burnley dug in and did what they do best, organising, closing space and committing to every tackle.

crystal-palace-v-west-bromwich-albion-premier-league-selhurst-park Luka Milivojevic (right) scores the only goal of the game. Source: PA

Earlier at Selhurst Park, Luke Milivojevic’s first-half penalty helped Crystal Palace take another step to safety with a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened West Brom.

Wilfried Zaha, who pre-match became the first Premier League player not to take the knee, won the spot-kick and Roy Hodgson saw his players keep a third clean sheet from their last four games to secure a vital victory.

It was a different story for the visitors who lacked a cutting edge and look certain to be in the Sky Bet Championship next season.

The Baggies were unchanged while the hosts recalled Zaha in place of Andros Townsend at Selhurst Park.

After Palace’s top goalscorer marked his return from a hamstring injury with a cameo at Tottenham last weekend, he was back in the starting XI and it gave him the chance to stand at kick-off instead of taking the knee.

Zaha stated last month the pre-match gesture – brought in by the Premier League in June as an anti-racism message when football resumed – had lost its meaning and in a statement on Saturday insisted “it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.”

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Once the Eagles attacker had stood at kick-off, while the 21 other players on the pitch took the knee, play got under way but chances were few and far between.

2.58581764 Zaha did not take the knee before kick-off. Source: Mike Hewitt/PA

It was West Brom who enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and the impressive Okay Yokuslu should have done better in the 20th minute when he fired over from a promising position.

Sam Allardyce, who had a five-month spell in charge of Palace back in 2017, saw his old team make his current side pay the penalty in the 37th minute.

Central to the opener was Zaha, who saw a cross blocked by the arm of defender Darnell Furlong and following a lengthy VAR check, referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot after using the pitchside monitor.

Milivojevic had a superb volley brilliantly denied by Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone moments after the penalty incident and was able to get the better of him this time from 12 yards to open his account for the season.

While it was harsh on the visitors, it was almost 2-0 just two minutes into the second period.

Christian Benteke and Ebere Eze combined outside the area, but the former saw his rising effort excellently tipped over by Johnstone.

Palace were almost left to rue their profligacy when Conor Townsend picked out Matt Phillips in the 53rd minute and yet he blazed over on the volley after Patrick Van Aanholt had mistimed his jump at the back post.

As the heavens opened in south London, Albion’s manager had seen enough and introduced Hal Robson-Kanu in place of the ineffective Matheus Pereira while Robert Snodgrass was also soon summoned.

The downpour showed no signs of slowing and it made life difficult, which neatly summed up West Brom’s chances of survival with time running out.

While the rain did eventually stop, the Baggies were unable to find a leveller and fired another blank to suffer a 20th league defeat of the campaign.

It left Allardyce’s men second from bottom and eight points from safety with nine fixtures left, but the picture is brighter for Palace who are up to 11th and on 37 points – a total which has been enough to avoid the drop in each of the last four seasons.

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