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Vydra scores opener as Burnley take control early on
Newcastle grow into match and are controversially denied penalty for a high boot by Tarkowski after Var review
Saint-Maximin changes the game with assist and brilliant solo goal within minutes of coming on the pitch
For Steve Bruce the answer was there all the time: just get the right players on the pitch. Almost an hour had passed with his Newcastle side doing a fine impression of a bunch already reconciled to playing in the Championship next season when he had seen enough. On came the cavalry in the shape of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. And the rewards were immediate.
Within seven minutes Saint-Maximin had conjured up an equaliser then scored a brilliant solo goal to secure three points that had seemed entirely unreachable. That is what managers are there for: to make the decisions that matter.
“I will say it was a tactical masterclass,” a smiling Bruce said afterwards. “They’ve had big injuries. You see what we’ve missed. It’s not rocket science: we need our best players.”
The game began with a two-minute silence for the Duke of Edinburgh. It was the last time there was any quiet at the empty Turf Moor. This was surely the noisiest encounter there has been in lockdown, a match played to a soundtrack of constant bellowing. Rising above even the row generated by the Premier League’s two growliest managers was the Geordie-inflected tones of Newcastle’s goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who maintained a non-stop, parade-ground yell.
Not that volume was an indicator of quality - particularly among the visitors. For much of the first half they were abject. Jacob Murphy was too easily dispossessed, Jonjo Shelvey passed straight to the opposition, while when Sean Longstaff played a clever ball into space behind Joelinton the forward decided running was not for him.
Burnley, meanwhile, were keen to test Dubravka, who was obliged twice to save spectacularly before his team-mates appeared to have appreciated they were in a proper contest.
What will have alarmed Bruce most was how easily the home side were winning everything in the air (and being Burnley there was a lot of action in the air). Newcastle’s lack of aerial application was demonstrated when Ciaran Clark’s wayward header landed at Ashley Westwood’s feet. He played the ball quickly to Chris Wood on the edge of the area. The forward skimmed past the dejected Clark to the byline and cut the ball back to Matej Vydra. No Newcastle player appeared to have noticed he was unattended and he side-footed gleefully into the net.
Newcastle attempted to respond when Bailey Peacock-Farrell, in for the injured Nick Pope, was obliged to save brilliantly as Gayle stepped in behind the defence. The ball bounced up and, as James Tarkowski cleared, his boot came close to Longstaff’s forehead when the midfielder attempted to seize on the rebound. After an interminable examination, despite Tarkowski’s foot being so high it was practically in orbit, VAR deemed it no penalty.
The trouble was, there was no immediate indication Newcastle were fired up by the clear and obvious injustice. Indeed Dubravka was required to make a superb save to keep out his colleague Paul Dummett’s misdirected chest down of Dwight McNeil’s cross, which seemed to be heading into the goal.
Finally, Bruce acted and sent on his two stars. It might be argued nothing he has ever done as Newcastle boss has been as effective. Within a minute of stepping on to the pitch, with his first touch of the ball, Saint-Maximin sold a couple of dummies, checked and passed back to Murphy whose crisp shot fizzed into the net.
Moments later the Frenchman picked the ball up in his own half from Jonjo Shelvey, charged forward, left Tarkowski on his heels and stabbed the ball into the net. It was of a quality completely missing from Newcastle’s approach before then.
His presence seemed to inject confidence into his colleagues. Suddenly passes were landing at feet, headers were being won, even Shelvey looked engaged. Miguel Almiron almost benefitted from another Saint-Maximin assist when the Frenchman once more dashed to the byline and passed back invitingly. But Almiron’s shot was cleared off the line by Tarkowski.
Burnley kept trying, they peppered the Newcastle goal with 20 shots, they sent over more than a dozen corners, but Sean Dyche had nothing on his bench to match what Bruce could unleash in the brilliant Saint-Maximin. And on a day when points were vital, that was what made the difference.
That's it! A massive win for Newcastle and one of the best individual performances I've seen from any player in the league this season. Allan Saint-Maximin was incredible today.
90 mins+2 - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Mumbongo comes on for Burnley. They have three forwards now - really going for it. Vydra kicks someone else's boot while trying to hit a volley. It's not a penalty though Burnley players do appeal for one.
90 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
OFF THE LINE! Tarkowski clears Almiron's shot - which was going in - off the line after ASM pulls the Burnley defence apart again. This is an astonishing performance by ASM.
89 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Burnley with most of the ball but Newcastle are posing a real threat on the counter.
86 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle are fortunate to win a corner they shouldn't have. Longstaff has the chance to batter a volley through the net but rushes and kicks thin air, setting up ASM by accident, who shoots into bodies. Blocked. Burnley break, win a corner, then Newcastle break.
83 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Saint-Maximin now using his talents to keep the ball from two Burnley players who look like normal humans playing against a pro in five a side as he double touches and side steps to evade them.
80 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle sat deep in a 5-3-2 just waiting for a ball to bounce and land at ASM's feet. He and Wilson are just prowling waiting high up the pitch to prevent Burnley pushing everyone into the Newcastle half.
77 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle have played some dreadful passes out from the back today. A simple ball down the wing hands possession straight to Burnley, and McNeil crosses in for Vydra at the near post, who just can't get his shot on target.
74 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Vydra goes for a volley as he chases a long ball over the top and hits it an extremely difficult angle. He connects almost perfectly for power but can't quite get the placement and smashes into the side netting.
71 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
A couple of weird stats for you:
Saint-Maximin is the third Newcastle player to score and assist in both matches against an opponent in a PL season. The others are Nolberto Solano vs Leeds in 2000/01 and Aleksandar Mitrovic vs Spurs in 2015/16.
Allan Saint-Maximin is only the fifth player to both score and assist a goal as a substitute in a Premier League match for Newcastle, and first since Rolando Aarons against Tottenham in May 2016.
68 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
Burnley in control of the ball, Newcastle looking to break with long passes. They're just giving the ball away every time.
Wow. That is unbelievably good from Saint-Maximin.
Burnley 1 Newcastle 2
ASM picks the ball up on the half way line, drives through the middle, burnley step off him and he keeps going, lines up a shot but it's a fake, tucks inside and finishes powerfully into the bottom corner.
65 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 1
Saint-Maximin drops deep to get involved and PLAYS A PASS WITH HIS SECOND TOUCH! This boy has been coached. Burnley already do not like him at all even though they're the ones with all the possession at the moment, working play around the final third to get crosses into the area.
62 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 1
Dubravka has to make another save straight away as Burnley go up the other end from kick off.
If this is the start of Saint-Maximin turning into the absolute star he has the potential for, I am all in. Totally wrong about that sub - an individual player has changed the game for Newcastle.
SAINT-MAXIMIN MAKES THE DIFFERENCE INSTANTLY! Murphy finishes a brilliant bit of individual play from the winger.
Burnley 1 Newcastle 1
That is excellent from Saint-Maximin. He doesn't overdo it, doesn't try and beat every single player in the box, uses his skill to win space and then sets up Murphy for a finish inside the area.
58 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Bruce has Saint-Maximin warming up. He is very exciting to watch but never ever passes and cannot finish, nor provide crosses that really create chances. And this system clearly isn't working either. I'm not sure this is going to make any difference other than a couple of YouTube worthy dribbles.
Wilson is on too for Joelinton, who might as well not have been on today.
56 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Wood manages to turn his man inside the box by the line but can't get his rushed volley anywhere near the target. Burnley are all over Newcastle at the moment, finding space everywhere and forcing Dubravka to make a heap of saves. McNeill is denied by another excellent bit of goalkeeping. Clark has to head behind to prevent Wood having a tap in inside six yards.
53 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Fernandez has learned how to defend against Wood on the left channel, not falling for the same trick twice and seeing it out for a corner, rather than letting the striker set up Vydra for a goal.
Burnley the better team by far in this half again.
50 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Lots of long goal kicks and big punts from hand in this match. It's quite refreshing. Doesn't really make sense to go that route and then spend a minute passing short around the back when the ball is bounced back though.
47 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
No changes for either side yet. I don't think it'll be long before Bruce finds a way to get his star subs on.
Burnley have started on the attack though and Lowton gets a couple of goes at volleys from the D from corners. Dubravka makes an excellent save to stop one.
KICK OFF 2
Dubravka has to make a few difficult saves as Burnley push for another before the break but it ends 1-0. Newcastle players will be raging with that non-penalty decision.
45 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
It looks like I might not be so out of touch after all. I haven't seen a single person on my Twitter timeline defend the decision.
43 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle have definitely improved as this game has gone on. They're also getting wound up by refereeing decisions. A few of my fellow journos appear to agree:
40 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Longstaff wants a penalty for throwing his head at a loose ball in the box as Gayle misses a near post tap in and the goalkeeper saves, Tarkowski goes to clear it with his boot and has his foot way above head height. The commentators are saying he had no other option but for me that's a penalty. It's dangerous play.
Var says... no penalty. I know nothing.
37 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle starting to find ways to get at Burnley but they are leaving themselves more vulnerable to Burnley attacks as a result. McNeil wastes a half chance at the back post by volleying over with an open foot.
35 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
GOOOOAAALLLLL yeh but it's miles offside. Joelinton manages to get a foot on a cross, it rolls towards goal and Gayle flicks it in. Everyone knows he's offside, including Gayle.
33 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle looking for Joelinton over the top with long early passes and for some reason that strategy still isn't working very well.
30 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
What a turn by Gudmundsson on his first touch, spinning 180 degrees around a defender on the edge of the box and winning a free-kick as a result. This is right in the D and should give McNeil a great chance to score.
Brownhill steps up... and awful. Delete. Miles over.
27 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Signs of progress now though! Shelvey drives forward in the right channel, crosses early into the box but Gayle can't reach it.
24 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Oh no this is a bad fact:
Newcastle haven't won any of their previous 25 Premier League games when conceding first (D6 L19).
22 mins - Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Burnley are in total control of this, with and without the ball. Newcastle are running at defenders even though there's another Burnley player waiting behind, going long too early, and are being shown backwards whenever they get into the Burnley half.
Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Burnley attack the left channel, Wood gets to the byline and cuts back into the middle of the box. Newcastle easily pulled apart... that goal looked so easy for Burnley.
16 mins - Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
Burnley limiting Newcastle to wide areas when they attack then pouncing on any loose passes to steal possession and move up the pitch. I can see Newcastle going the whole match without taking a shot at this rate.
13 mins - Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
This game has gone almost exactly as you might imagine Burnley vs Newcastle would.
10 mins - Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle on the back foot. Burnley making the pitch big, getting crosses in and following up on second balls. Vydra hits a low shot into a defender, Newcastle don't appear to have any real way of getting out of their own third quickly.
7 mins -Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
Tarkowski heads over from the free-kick.
6 mins - Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
Murphy does well against McNeil to block a cross but then fouls him a few seconds later to give Burnley a free-kick in a dangerous position wide of the box.
3 mins - Burnley 0 Newcastle 0
Both teams taking turns to keep the ball, neither doing it particularly well.
Newcastle start the game and launch the ball out for a goal kick. Here we go.
Here come the players
Let's have a quick look at the table before we get started:
A win for Newcastle would be massive. Fulham and West Brom fans will be supporting Burnley today.
Let's get pumped
Nothing particularly of note from either manager pre-match, mostly just pointing out that they are without certain players through injury and others haven't quite recovered in time. Here's a stat that should rev your engine though:
Burnley could set an outright Premier League record today of six consecutive home draws
Here we go!
It looks lovely in Burnley
It's very sunny next to where I live but many miles north where the Sean Dyches roam wild, it's beautiful.
This guarantees tiki taka flowing football, by the way.
Burnley vs Newcastle
Hello there and welcome to today's big relegation battle between Burnley and Newcastle, two teams desperate to avoid being dragged into the dreaded 18th position which would doom them to Championship life.
Burnley have a four point advantage over Newcastle, who are really struggling at the moment. It's not clear where their next win is going to come from, players are low on confidence, the tactical system doesn't inspire creativity and basically, they're just not very good.
The teams look like this today:
Burnley in their usual 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 and Newcastle in a 3-5-2. Burnley's shape means all of Newcastle's play will have to go wide but all of Newcastle's width is going to come from Murphy and Ritchie at wing-back. Crosses into the box will be headed away by Burnley's centre-backs... and this could turn into a rather frustrating, low goal affair.
Sean Dyche had this to say about Steve Bruce:
“With some stuff, not things like tactics, just general opinion on dealing with situations and clubs, he was very helpful to me when I very first started at Watford
“He saw a young manager and tried to help out where he could. “Things like that you never forget as a young manager, when the older more experienced managers help you out.
“I just think he is a really good guy, I like his company.
“I have met his lovely wife a number of times and they are good company.
“I think sometimes that you forget people are human beings as well as football managers and it is nice when that mixture is right, very good football manager and a good bloke as well.”
MAYBE THE GAME WILL BE AMAZING! After all this is the best league in the world, full of surprises, excitement, wonder, and Burnley vs Newcastle. Kick off is at 12pm with the game live on Sky Sports.
Stay with us for live updates.