Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley: Ben Mee's header puts the Clarets in touching distance of Europa League
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Football returned to Selhurst Park after a 114-day absence, with both sides chasing after three points from this fixture to cement their hold on a potential Europa League spot.  

Crystal Palace and Burnley were tied on 42 points prior to kick-off, with the Eagles slightly ahead of the Clarets on goal difference.   

Crystal Palace came into this fixture off the back of a devastating 4-0 loss to Premier League winners Liverpool, whereas Burnley were full of confidence after their 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Watford.  

Story of the game 

Crystal Palace welcomed back key players in goalkeeper, Vincente Guiata, and mercurial winger, Wilfried Zaha, who was doubtful prior to the match due to a calf issue he picked up in the warm-up against Liverpool.  

Roy Hodgson was also able to call upon captain, Luka Milivojevic, and welcomed back Scott Dann in to the line-up in place of Mamadou Sakho.  

Burnley were hit with an injury crisis, with the game winner from their 1-0 win over Watford, Jay Rodriguez, missing through a knock he picked up against the Hornets. Burnely manager, Sean Dyche tweaked formation with star man, Dwight McNeil, playing in a more central role, and Erik Pieters coming in at left midfield. 

Selhurst Park is usually bouncing when Palace are playing at home, and the Eagles could have been excused for taking some time to adapt to the eerie Selhurst Park atmosphere, but Burnley started the game the stronger of the two 

Burnley’s explosive start was nearly rewarded in the 19th minute, after confusion in the Palace area led to McNeil being close to opening the scoring. However, his shot whistled just over the bar.  

Palace were much the brighter side following the break, and Gary Cahill could have grabbed his first goal for the Eagles in the 54th minute, after a superb back-heel from Jordan Ayew found Cahill, but his shot was too tame to trouble Nick Pope.  

Burnley broke the deadlock on the 62nd minute after captain, Ben Mee, who was celebrating his 300th Clarets appearance, diverted an Ashley Westwood free-kick with powerful header towards goal, which proved too strong for Guiata to handle, giving Burnley their deserved lead.   

In the 80th minute, Palace came so close to equalising through Scott Dann whose header from a Zaha cross allowed the 33-year-old to rise above the Burnley defence. Unfortunately for Dann, he couldn't keep his shot on target. 

Palace pushed to salvage something from the game, but Burnley's robust defence, which had kept the Eagles quiet for the whole game, saw out any potential danger.  

Takeaways  

Palace struggled without their passionate fans to help them through the game. The Eagles only appeared to wake up following the opening goal, and by then there was little time for Hodgson's side to find a way back into the game. 

The Eagles looked short of ideas in attack and without a real focal point up front, they struggled to pose any real threat to Nick Pope.   

Burnley push on under Sean Dyche, who after speculation in the week about his future, would have been delighted to have come away from Selhurst Park with all three points.  

The win pushes Burnley up to 8th, with the Clarets breathing down the neck of Tottenham Hotspur for an elusive Europa League spot.  

Palace move down to 11th, with their own dream of European football all but obsolete following the defeat.  

Man of the Match: Ben Mee 

Captain, Ben Mee, was a man inspired in the fixture and imperious at the back. Mee and Co. kept Palace at bay with no real threat of danger.  

Mee topped off his 300th Clarets appearance with a smart header too past Palace goalkeeper, Vicente Guiata, to seal all three points for his side.  

Mee was the Man of the Match, but honorable mentions go to Josh Brownhill and Dwight McNeil who proved tricky customers all evening for Palace. 

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