Burnley’s revival continued with a comfortable win to extend the unbeaten run to four games since the Etihad attack and take a valuable eight points from December fixtures.
It was fitting that Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes should score the goals because, while the Wolves enjoyed most of the possession and managed almost as many attempts, they proved ill-equipped to deal with Burnley’s standard tactic of pumping high balls resist the area for their front two to try to reach.
Visitors must have known that Burnley would be direct and physical. Sean Dyche’s schedule hasn’t changed much over the years, but even with three mid-halves, the Wolves struggled to counter the aerial threat.
“It was a tough game but we expected it,” said Nuno Espírito Santo. “The defense wasn’t good enough for the goals we conceded. We knew what Burnley was going to try and we should have had better answers. ”
Dyche was just disappointed that a late sentence brought a tense ending. “With the number of opportunities we’ve created, we might have had to be in control sooner,” said the Burnley manager. “Otherwise it was a great achievement. We have done well at both ends of the field. ”
The first half was a pretty tame and strange affair until Barnes gave Burnley the lead shortly after the half hour. Wolves had been more likely to score up to that point as players like Rúben Neves and João Moutinho were moving the ball dangerously around the edge of the Burnley area, but despite the possession of the visitors, they eventually offered their opponents space behind their backline.
Wood might have opened the gate from Dwight McNeil’s inviting flank, but despite managing to bond with an overhead kick, the shot went harmlessly far.
Barnes should have done better with a good chance instead of sitting down and shooting the ball straight at Rui Patrício, but when Charlie Taylor sent a cross from the left, he was practically leaning on the long post of the Burnley striker to miss.
He didn’t have much headroom or a good view of the target, but when he got his head to the ball, Patrício had little chance of parrying a solid downward header.
A first-half encounter involving Ben Mee and Nélson Semedo highlighted the stupidity of the linesmen’s current policy of not hoisting their flags until the ball has been played. Semedo began chasing a loose ball over the top of defense from a clearly offside position, but the flag stayed down so Mee had to chase him.
The defense attorney has just caught his husband shooting and expertly expropriated him in the six-yard box, but injured himself in the process. Mee limped through the remainder of the half as play resumed with an offside free kick halfway up the field. Ridiculous.
Whatever Nuno said during the break didn’t have much of an impact as the Wolves started the second half like an accident waiting to happen. Romain Saïss mistook himself for Patrício to take an unnecessary corner, then Neves missed control after a Semedo throw-in and allowed Josh Brownhill to hit the top of the crossbar.
Brownhill should probably have scored, but it didn’t matter as Wood put the ball into the net a few minutes later.
Westwood sent a free kick, which Mee took back over the six-yard line. Barnes and a couple of defense attorneys jumped up and made contact. The rest of the wolves stood around and watched Wood whip the loose ball into the top of the net from about two feet away.
It wasn’t the cleanest goal, but there didn’t seem to be any offside or illegal challenge issues and on a second look the VAR team let it stand.
Wood almost extended the lead, which Patrício’s extended leg refused to do after appearing to have done most of the work in rounding the goalkeeper before Nick Pope stepped into action on the other end for a well-hit shot from Neves hit from out of range.
The game got a hectic end that didn’t really deserve it when Josh Benson came on as a substitute in the last four minutes and managed to contact Fábio Silva in the area before he managed to touch the ball.
Silva scored on the spot to make stoppage time more entertaining, but even after a long five minutes the wolves couldn’t find a second.
Burnley F. . C.. . , Wolverhampton Wanderers F. . C.. . , Premier League, Sean Dyche, Ashley Barnes, Nuno Espírito Santo, Chris Wood
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