Burnley (4) 3-1 (2) Aberdeen: Clarets stumble through Europa League qualifier after extra time

Burnley (4) 3-1 (2) Aberdeen: Clarets stumble through Europa League qualifier after extra time

Burnley are now just one tie away from the Europa League proper.

Chris Lincoln
Burnley Lindegaard; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward (Taylor 91); Berg Gudmundsson, Westwood (Hendrick 106), Cork, Lennon (McNeil 87); Wood (Barnes 46), Vokes
Aberdeen Lewis; Logan, Devlin, McKenna, Considine, Shinnie; Mackay-Steven, Hoban (Ball 88), Ferguson (Forrester 106), McGinn (Wright 80); Cosgrove (May 100)
SCORE1-0 Wood 6, 1-1 Ferguson 27, 2-1 Cork 101, 3-1 Barnes 114

A spirited Aberdeen side were eventually dumped out of Europe after pushing Burnley all the way in their Europa League qualifier.

A mammoth game for both clubs 

As European football returned to Turf Moor for the first time in 51 years, fans were split over how useful a long stint in this season's Europa League could be for the Lancashire club. With Sean Dyche blaming the Clarets' business model for struggling to make any additions to his squad and the fear that Burnley's Premier League season could suffer as a result, there was a worry that a deep campaign could prove more of a hinderance than helpful.

Similarly, Aberdeen had spent much of the week claiming their financial position could not even come close to Burnley's budget - emphasised by figures stating that the home side's starting eleven for the second leg cost just shy of £39 million, compared to £190,000 for the visitors. However, the atmosphere of the crowd and strong team selections proved that both sides were definitely still focussed on qualifying for European club football's second most prestigious competition.

Early Wood strike cancelled out by Ferguson screamer

After a scrappy opening in heated conditions, it took the hosts just six minutes to calm the nerves with a typical Burnley strike. Jack Cork won the ball back in midfield before Ashley Westwood lifted a pinpoint ball into the path of Chris Wood. The striker controlled the pass with composure before keeping his nerve to smash the ball into the roof of the net with Joe Lewis at his feet.

The Premier League side started to control the tempo and possession without ever really threatening a second. Yet it was the influence of Gary Mackay-Steven that dragged the Scots back into the contest. He found himself with the first opening for the visitors on 22 minutes, finding space after a cross from the left before seeing his strike blocked by Stephen Ward.

Yet it was the utilisation of his tactical nous to pop up on the left just five minutes later that helped to create the equaliser for Aberdeen. His cross was met by the head of Wood but the Kiwi's poor clearance fell to Lewis Ferguson who let ripped with a phenomenal overhead kick that nestled in the top corner. Game on.

That goal clearly rattled Burnley, although they did go close when James Tarkowski flicked a corner wide from Johann Berg Gudmundsson's delivery. However, Aberdeen and Mackay-Steven in particular continued to probe and another cross from the attacking midfielder was directed off target by Andrew Considine

With Burnley hanging on for the half-time whistle, a neat flick from Mackay-Steven released Graeme Shinnie who forced Anders Lindegaard to tip his effort wide. The quiet Sam Vokes then had to block a Sam Cosgrove header from the resulting corner, moments before the first half drew to a close and the hosts left the pitch to an unfamiliar chorus of jeers.

Trio of outstanding Lewis saves keep Aberdeen alive

Ashley Barnes replaced Wood at the break who appeared to have picked up an injury. With manager Dyche clearly infuriated with his side for throwing away the lead, Burnley responded with increased tempo and intensity. Within minutes, Gudmundsson latched onto a Vokes flick only for Lewis to tip his half-volley wide.

After a series of half-hearted penalty appeals from the hosts, Aberdeen weathered the storm and settled back into the contest. Captain Shinnie perhaps should have even given them the lead when he curled over after Nial McGinn bombed forward.

The contest started to open up with players from both teams picking up yellow cards in desperate attempts to thwart opposing attacks. Barnes thought he had restored Burnley's advantage but Lewis flicked over again after an excellent pass from Cork. Ben Mee then nodded wide from the resulting corner.

Lindegaard was still kept interested at the other end as Ferguson and Shinnie combined before the latter forced him into a smart stop at his near post. Matt Lowton, fresh from signing a new contract, then picked out Vokes who cannoned a header off the crossbar following a helpful touch from Lewis.

As the 90 minutes trudged to a close, Cork fired a deflected effort wide in between a series of substitutions. A thrilling contest was about to continue for at least another 30 minutes.

Scots run out of steam

As the players returned to the pitch with tired legs, Gudmundsson continued to look a threat for the hosts and saw a shot blocked straight after the restart. Yet it was one of the extra time substituted who was about to make the difference.

Left-back Charlie Taylor replaced Ward and he showed his quality with one of his first touches of the game. Patient passing from Burnley was worked out to the defender and he whipped in a delightful cross that found the run of Cork who ghosted between two Aberdeen defenders to head into the bottom corner on his 100th appearance for the club.

As weary legs prevented the visitors from responding, the game was sewn up with six minutes left on the clock. Gudmundsson's cross hit the hand of Scott McKenna and the referee pointed to the spot just before Vokes turned the ball home. Yet Barnes stepped forward to take the penalty and duly converted into the bottom corner. Game over.

The reward for Burnley? A trip to Istanbul next Thursday...


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