Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United:  Fantastic Saint-Maximin fires Newcastle closer to saftey
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A goal and an assist from second-half substitute Allan Saint-Maximin saw Newcastle overturn a half time deficit to go six points clear of 18th  place Fulham. Giving the Toon's chances of survival a huge boost.

Saint-Maximin set up Jacob Murphy to fire home from just inside the box after a fantastic piece of skill from the Frenchmen. Moments later he completed Steve Bruce's masterstroke as he fired in a superb solo effort, to give the Magpies only their third win of 2021. 

Story of the match 

The home side made one change to the side that was defeated by Southampton on the South-Coast last weekend. Nick Pope was ruled out with a shoulder injury, allowing Bailey Peacock-Farrell to make his first home start in the Premier League.

There was positive news for Newcastle and Steve Bruce as he was able to name top-scorer Callum Wilson in his squad for the first time since he picked up a hamstring injury against Southampton, at the start of February. 

Bruce made two changes to the side that picked up a deserved point against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark came in for the injured Jaamal Lascelles, as Emil Krafth dropped down to the bench. 

It was an electrifying start to proceedings at Turf  Moor as both sides enjoyed early frantic spells of the ball, with both trying to settle any pre-existing nerves.

It was Burnley who seized the initiative as they began to settle down. They enjoyed a dominant spell which saw Matej Vydra have the first half-chance of the afternoon. Johann Gudmundsson’s cross was superbly controlled by Burnley’s No.27, after a nice touch and turn his subsequent effort was blocked by those in the lime-green kit of Newcastle.

Newcastle went down the other end and almost immediately found themselves ahead in the strangest of ways. As the ball broke forward, Bruce’s men began to load the flanks and Sean Longstaff found himself in the role of the creator, as he was forced to pick out a cross from the right-hand side. His miss-hit cross went all wrong, but nearly caught home debutant Peacock-Farrell out  as dipped just over the crossbar. 

Burnley were presented with the best opportunity to fire themselves ahead. Ashley Westwood, as he so often does, whipped in a superb corner from the left hand-side which was flicked on at the near post by Josh Brownhill. Martin Dubraka was just as equal to the effort as he managed to somehow keep it out.

There were only so many times Newcastle could ride their luck and It felt like it would only be a matter of time before Sean Dyche’s men would finally get themselves in front.  

And exactly that happened in the 16th minute as Vydra got the all important breakthrough, after a fantastic bit of work from Chris Wood. Wood beat two Newcastle defenders before cutting the ball back - from the byline - for Vydra to notch home his 7th Premier League goal of the season and continue his recent Burnley revival. 

Newcastle and Bruce could certainly have no complaints, they could only be thankful that it wasn’t more. They looked like a side out of ideas without the creative spark of Saint-Maximin. 

The Clarets were able to find plenty of space in the middle of the park as Westwood and Brownhill  began to dictate the pace of the game. Newcastle’s midfield duo, Shelvey and Longstaff, failed to get near the pair for the opening half-hour of the game.

Newcastle thought they had drawn level after Joelinton’s timid effort was diverted into the Burnley goal by Dwight Gayle, his muted celebration told the everyone inside Turf Moor that he was fully aware of the illegal position he had taken up.

To the naked eye it looked like a rather easy decision. However, replays seem to suggest he was closer to being onside than originally thought, due to the Burnley centre-halves rushing back onto the line. 

The disallowed goal gave Newcastle their much needed kick start, as it marked the start of a decent spell for the visitors. They should have, again, found themselves level as Peacock-Farrell made an incredible save at the near post to deny Gayle who had found himself on the end of Murphy’s cross.

The rebound started a controversial couple of moments,  as Longstaff  attempted to get his head to the ball but he was met by the boot of James Tarkowski. Bruce’s men were adamant they should have been awarded penalty. However, after a consultation with VAR Anthony Taylor was not convinced. 

The second half, to the surprise of many, saw Bruce send out the same eleven that he had fielded in the opening 45 minutes, as he kept his superstars Saint-Maximin and Wilson seated on the bench. 

Burnley picked up where they had left off as they had the first meaningful effort after the break. Matt Lowton’s volley from a Clarets corner forced the Dubravka into another fantastic finger-tip save, as he continued to keep Newcastle afloat in the contest. 

Bruce finally introduced his two wild cards in the 57th minute as Joelinton and Gayle made way for Wilson and Saint-Maximin. The changes from the under-fire  Toon manager did not take long to yield results. 

Just before the hour mark Newcastle’s No.10 single-handedly began to drag them back into the match as he set-up the first goal for Murphy after some fantastic skill drew in the Claret shirts and created space on the edge of the box. The ball was popped back to Murphy who slammed home with force to the delight of the away dugout. Newcastle were somehow back into the game and had been presented with the lifeline of  the season, to get themselves and Bruce out of jail. 

Saint-Maximin wasn’t finished there. Five minutes later he completed the turnaround for Bruce’s side, firing them ahead with a fantastic solo effort. He received the ball from Jonjo Shelvey inside the Burnley half as he drove at the Clarets’ defence, before checking inside and firing past the excellent Peacock-Farrell with his left foot. 

Burnley were stunned, they couldn’t quite believe how the game had been flipped on its head in the space of eight minutes. They were not to blame for their downfall, it was two unpreventable moments of brilliance from the Toon’s latest hero.

Dyche’s men had chances in the closing stages of the game to draw level. Vydra hit the side netting and numerous balls into the box, but nothing was falling for the home side. 

Newcastle thought they had wrapped up all three points when another piece of brilliance from Saint-Maximin, when he squared the ball across to Almiron to get in on the act, only for his effort to be cleared off the line by Tarkowski.

The win takes Newcastle six points above the Fulham in 18th, as they slowly edge closer to Premier League survival. It was the Bruce’s first Premier League win whilst trailing at half time since 2013, when his Hull side overcame a half time deficit to Newcastle.

Takeaways

  • Burnley lack quality in the final third

Dyche will be furious with the nature of his sides last two defeats. Both games saw Burnley take the lead and look fairly comfortable for the early stages, however, The Clarets seem to have been rocked by both of their opposition's responses in recent weeks. 

Burnley will be checking their shoulders, left and right, in the coming weeks to make sure Fulham do not spring any surprises and drag them into a late relegation battle. However, The Clarets could have had their feet on  the beach for the final weeks of the season if their finishing had been better.

They had 24 shots on target on Sunday afternoon, with four of these on target. They also underperformed on XG (2), a stat where their visitors overperformed on the day as they had an XG of (1.39). A sutible definition of 'smash and grab'.

  • Newcastle bailed out by Saint-Maximin heroics 

Burnley's hard feelings today will stem from how poor their opposition were for the first 55 minutes of the contents. The introduction of star duo WIlson and Saint-Maximin clearly gave all of those added belief, as well as the obvious, added quality to work with. 

Saint-Maximin made his return from injury last weekend against Spurs but wasn't deemed fit enough to start this afternoon's clash. His impact though when he was called upon was scintillating. 

The pairs introduction handed Newcastle only their third win of 2021. Something that does raise the underlaying issues of the  rest of the squads capabilities. Have Newcastle really become so reliant on two individuals? Today's game - combined with previous performances without the duo - would present a valid hearing  for the argument that they are  slowly becoming far too reliant on the pair.

 

Starting XI's:

Burnley: Peacock-Farrell, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Gudmundsson, Brownhill, Wood, McNeil, Westwood, Pieters, Vydra.

Newcastle: Dubravka, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Joelinton, Ritchie, Gayle, Fernandez, Murphy, Almiron, Longstaff.

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