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Burnley 2-1 Fulham: Clarets win crucial relegation battle without shot on target

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Burnley 2-1 Fulham: Clarets win crucial relegation battle without shot on target

Fulham defender Joe Bryan diverted Burnley’s equaliser past Sergio Rico with an outstretched left leg

Fulham scored two own goals in three minutes as Burnley claimed victory in a crucial relegation battle at Turf Moor, without registering a single shot on target.

A stunning Andre Schurrle volley had seen the visitors take the lead after two minutes before defenders Joe Bryan and Denis Odoi both diverted the ball into their own net.

Jeff Hendrick was the provider for both goals, with the Republic of Ireland international’s drilled cross cannoning in off Bryan’s left leg for the equaliser.

And a clipped cross into the Fulham box from the left, saw Odoi head past Sergio Rico.

It is the first time since August 2003 that a team has scored two goals in the Premier League without a shot on target and Burnley have also become the fifth team to win a match in the competition without registering a single shot on target after Crystal Palace, Watford, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri introduced Luciano Vietto off the bench in the second half, and the striker came closest to finding the equaliser with two good chances.

He was denied first by James Tarkowski on the line before Clarets captain Tom Heaton produced a fine save.

A third consecutive league win sees Burnley move up to 15th in the table, while a tenth defeat on the road means Fulham remain in 19th.

Burnley recover after early setback

Victory for Sean Dyche’s men saw Burnley become the first side since Crystal Palace beat Watford in March 2017, to claim three Premier League points without a shot on target.

However, Schurrle’s sensational strike saw them make the worst possible start as they struggled to find any rhythm for the opening 15 minutes.

Hendrick, who was one of four players to retain his place in the starting line-up from last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Barnsley, was Burnley’s biggest threat.

As the home side began to impose themselves on the game, the midfielder had three shots – albeit all off target.

And when the equaliser eventually came, it was Hendrick who reacted quickest at the back post to collect a Dwight McNeil cross and his low centre ricocheted in off the helpless Bryan.

And the winner came after Hendrick switched sides and lifted a ball into the Fulham box from the left, and Odoi was equally as helpless as he nodded the ball into his own net.

In dreadful conditions, with rain and wind swirling round Turf Moor, Burnley also had the game’s best defender with Tarkowski making six clearances, the most in the game, in front of the watching England manager Gareth Southgate, and perhaps his best moment came when he kept out Vietto’s fierce effort on his own goalline with Heaton beaten.

Fulham’s defensive frailties exposed

While the scoreline was harsh on Fulham, who created the better chances and saw more of the ball, particularly in the second half when they had 71% of the possession, Ranieri will be most concerned with his side’s defending.

The Cottagers play with three centre-halves and two wing-backs, but the five-man defence lost possession 94 times between them at Turf Moor.

Having taken the lead, Fulham defenders were caught dawdling on the ball twice, as Maxime Le Marchand and Tim Ream both conceded possession in dangerous areas as Burnley were gaining a foothold in the game.

Two own goals in quick succession showed signs of inexperience and uncertainty at the heart of the worst defence in the Premier League – the Cottagers have conceded 49 goals – and Ranieri may look to shore up his back line in this transfer window with a relegation battle looming.

More to follow.

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