BURNLEY, England (Reuters) - Struggling Aston Villa picked up just their second away win of the Premier League season, securing three vital points in a 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day, their first league win at Turf Moor since 1936.
Villa thought they had taken an 11th minute lead through a diving header from Jack Grealish but a VAR review found that Wesley’s heel was marginally offside during the move and the goal was over-turned.
It was exactly the kind of ‘forensic’ use of VAR that has been criticised over the festive period and which has been questioned by the game’s rule-makers IFAB.
But the lengthy break and eventual decision did nothing to interrupt Villa’s momentum as they continued to play positively while Burnley looked to be feeling the pace of the hectic schedule with limited changes to their starting line-up.
It was Wesley who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute — the impressive Grealish finding him in the box and the Brazilian swivelled and fired past Nick Pope to give Villa a deserved lead.
Burnley were unusually sloppy in defence and lacking their usual spirit of work-rate and it was no shock when Grealish doubled Villa’s lead four minutes before the break, finishing off a lovely passing move with a confident curling finish.
Sean Dyche made a double substitution at the break with Jay Rodriguez and Johann Berg Gudmundsson introduced and that had the desired effect with the Clarets much more positive.
Rodriguez and Chris Wood both missed good chances before Wood finally found the target with a back post header from an Ashley Westwood cross in the 80th minute but Burnley were unable to force an equaliser.
Villa’s former Burnley keeper, England international Tom Heaton injured himself during Wood’s goal and was carried off on a stretcher.
Burnley have now lost six of their last eight games and head into a tough run of games where they will face Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester City and Arsenal.
The win takes Villa, who had lost eight of their last eleven games, out of the bottom three and Grealish, whose class shone throughout, said they had responded to facing up to their situation.
“We had a long meeting during the week and there were some home truths said and it showed today. Burnley is one of the toughest places to come in the league and thankfully we got the win,” he said.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was nonplussed by his team’s first half display.
“Disappointing result but the frustration is we didn’t turn up today until halftime. You can’t give any team a two-goal headstart and it wasn’t through excellent play, it was from our mistakes,” he said.
“With the quality of chances we created we could’ve nicked something out of the game but you can’t give teams that headstart.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge