Burnley will need to come back from two goals behind in the second leg of the Europa League play-off against Olympiakos after losing 3-1 in Athens in the first leg.
The Clarets performed well in the first half, scoring what could still be a vital away goal and entering the break at 1-1. However, a difficult second half for Sean Dyche’s side saw them concede twice, as Ben Gibson was sent off, in only his second appearance for the Clarets.
Dyche made six changes to the side that were beaten 3-1 by Watford at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Tom Heaton made his first appearance of the season, with Phil Bardsley, Ben Gibson, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor and Ashley Barnes also starting.
Hosts take the lead
Olympiakos started well and took the lead after 19 minutes. The lively Daniel Podence was fouled by Bardsley, giving the 44-time Greek champions a dangerous free kick 25-yards from goal.
Captain Kostas Fortunis struck the free kick brilliantly and planted the ball just beyond Heaton, who was starting his first competitive game in almost 12 months.
The Clarets, though, responded well to the set back and began to show signs that they could cause problems for Olympiakos’ defence. On the half-hour mark, Burnley were given the chance to equalise from the spot. Chris Wood placed himself between the ball and Mohamed Camara, who barged Wood over inside the box.
Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic, who made some controversial decisions throughout the match, pointed to the spot much to the frustrations of the Olympiakos supporters.
Wood himself stepped up to take the penalty, and calmly converted his second goal in the Europa League this season, after scoring in Burnley’s 3-1 second leg victory over Aberdeen earlier in the season.
Dyche’s side were buoyed by the equaliser and looked the stronger team in the closing minutes of the half. Johan Berg Gudmundsson’s corner was headed just wide by Wood, as Burnley came close to what would have been another crucial away goal.
Olympiakos’ frustrations with the officials were further heated in the dying minutes of the first half.
Fortounis’ cross was driven against the arm of Steven Ward, but no penalty was awarded, as Ward’s hand was tucked well behind his back.
Red card condemns Clarets
The hosts looked fired up at the start of the second half, and regained their lead just three minutes after the restart. Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Andreas Bouchalakis was picked out well by Fortounis and he headed into the bottom corner.
Pedro Martins’ men sensed the opportunity to secure a commanding win ahead of the second leg, and began to pile pressure on Burnley’s much changed back four.
Heaton made a good save to deny Fortounis, the games outstanding player, from scoring a second.
However, minutes later the Greek international had another chance to double the hosts lead from the spot. Camara’s shot into a crowded area, was adjudged to have been handled by Gibson, who was subsequently shown a harsh second yellow card by the referee, who had been put under constant pressure from the hostile home crowd.
Fortounis comfortably converted from the spot, leaving Burnley half an hour with ten-men to keep the deficit at just two, ahead of the second leg.
James Tarkowski replaced Wood to help sure up Burnley’s defence, and The Clarets managed to finish the match with no further damage done to the scoreline.
Can the Clarets come back?
Burnley will need to score at least twice in the second leg, with a 2-0 win enough to take them through on away goals.
It will be an extremely difficult task for Dyche’s side, but an early goal would put the tie firmly back in the balance, and with the backing of the home crowd at Turf Moor, Burnley could yet pull off a dramatic comeback.