BURNLEY, England (Reuters) - Ashley Barnes struck twice as Burnley beat Southampton 3-0 in a meeting of two of last season’s Premier League strugglers at a wet and windswept Turf Moor on Saturday.
It was a typically robust display from Sean Dyche’s Burnley but a worrying performance from a Southampton side who have had to fight against the drop in the past two seasons.
Three goals inside 12 minutes in the second half turned a game which had been even until Barnes opened the scoring in the 63rd minute
“We lost it completely,” said Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“We lost it for 12 minutes and now this game is gone. Three-nil down, no chance to come back. We knew it would be difficult here. We knew it is not easy here. We did it ok for 60 minutes and then it is not good enough,” added the Austrian.
Hasenhuttl suffered a blow before the game with defender Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg restricted to the bench after suffering a pre-match illness but the Saints started well.
New signing Che Adams went close early, sliding in at the back post to meet a dangerous cross from Yan Valery but the 15 million-pound ($18 million) signing from Birmingham City couldn’t find the target.
Burnley, who left their own close season signing Jay Rodriguez on the bench against his former club, had the ball in the net through Chris Wood in the 16th minute but provider Barnes was flagged offside and a Video Assistant Referee review backed the decision.
In driving rain and swirling winds, there were few moments of quality -- Burnley winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson drove just wide of Angus Gunn’s post while Nick Pope, making his first league start in the Burnley goal for 15 months, made a fine save from a rasping Nathan Redmond drive.
The breakthrough came when Saints defender Jannik Vestergaard misjudged a hopeful long ball forward from Erik Pieters and Barnes latched on to it before firing home.
The pair combined again for the Clarets’ second seven minutes later with Dutch debutant Pieters’ cross from deep met superbly on the volley by Barnes.
Icelander Gudmundsson made it 3-0 in the 75th, winning a challenge with Ryan Bertrand and bursting goalward before beating goalkeeper Angus Gunn with a precise finish.
“Really good start, really pleasing start,” said Dyche.
“The players have got their reward for a really pleasing pre-season. There has been a strong desire and super fitness levels. I think there is an intent about the group,” he said, adding particular praise for the 29-year-old Barnes.
“His finishes were excellent. He continues to learn about himself and the game. He is certainly a very effective player,” Dyche said.
($1 = 0.8310 pounds)
Reporting by Simon Evans,; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond
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