Vieira thrilled as clash of styles sparks goal rush
By Adam Lanigan AT TURF MOOR
HANDS up who had this one down as a thriller? Well, congratulations if you did because that is exactly what we were treated to in the East Lancashire rain. Six goals, chances galore, five bookings, a hint of refereeing controversy, good attacking, some bad defending — this game had a little bit of everything. Little wonder then that Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira described it as a ‘crazy good game’. ‘Both teams maybe brought a different philosophy to the game but both tried to win it,’ he said. ‘I think for the neutral it was a good game to watch.’ The Frenchman was certainly right on that front. Spectators at this rollercoaster contest had to strap themselves in as the fun started after only eight minutes. That was when Christian Benteke fired the visitors in front with the help of a James Tarkowski deflection, and within a minute Conor Gallagher should have made it two but shot straight at Nick Pope after an incisive Eagles break. And before long, two goals from set-pieces in quick succession had exposed the visitors and swung the game back in the Clarets’ favour. First, Burnley captain Ben Mee powered in a header from Ashley Westwood’s deep corner after he had escaped the attention of his marker to get a free run at the cross. Then they produced successful head tennis from Dwight McNeil’s free-kick, with Chris Wood guiding one into the bottom corner after Tarkowski had headed it across for a 50th Premier League goal for the New Zealand striker. Benteke should have levelled immediately afterwards, but put a free header wide. However, he made amends with his next chance as he drew the Eagles level with a fifth goal in his last six games. Although he owed a big debt of gratitude to the superb hold-up play and awareness from Gallagher, fresh from his England debut in San Marino on Monday night. Still, the scoring in the opening period was not over as Vieira’s team continued to pile forward and they led again after 41 minutes. Pope kept out a header from Joachim Andersen, but Marc Guehi was waiting to drive the rebound through a crowd of players on the line for his first Palace goal. Could the entertainment keep going in the second half? Of course it could. Four minutes in and Sean Dyche’s team were level when Maxwel Cornet sprinkled a bit of his stardust with a superb dipping volley at the back post for his fifth goal in seven games. The Burnley boss was incensed moments later, however, when Wood appeared to be brought down by Andersen when through on goal after the Dane had misjudged a high aerial ball. But referee Simon Hooper did not even award a foul. ‘It was bizarre,’ said Dyche. ‘He had two hands across Chris’ chest and I’ve no idea how the officials did not see it. But overall, I did not think the referee was up to the level we wanted today.’ The frenetic nature of the game continued until the end as Wilfried Zaha hit the crossbar when trying to replicate Cornet’s volley, while Matej Vydra could have won it with almost the last kick of the game, only for the Burnley substitute to be denied by a superb save from Vicente Guaita. The point was not enough to move Burnley out of the bottom three although it was a fourth game unbeaten, while Palace have only lost once since the opening day of the season. ‘The league table needs to change, but we are definitely going in the right direction the way we are playing,’ said Dyche. And, if Burnley continue in this free-scoring manner, long may that continue.