Crystal Palace's bid for Premier League survival was handed a huge boost on Saturday as they ran out 3-1 winners against Burnley at Turf Moor.
Burnley began brightly, but found themselves 1-0 down after 15 minutes as Jeffrey Schlupp's cross was inadvertently sent past Tom Heaton by a helpless Phil Bardsley. The hosts pressed hard for an equaliser, with Chris Wood coming closest, but Palace preserved their fortuitous lead heading into the break, despite not managing a shot on target in the entire half.
However, Palace certainly stepped their game up in the second half and soon doubled their lead as Michy Batshuayi sent a powerful shot crashing past Heaton. Their influence on the game grew, and an excellent strike from Wilfried Zaha gave Palace a deserved 3-0 lead. A late Ashley Barnes goal ensured a nerve-wracking finale, but Palace hung on and took all three points.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
Let's not overreact. This was by no means an abysmal performance by Burnley. However, it was utterly lifeless and uninspiring. Sean Dyche's side created plenty of chances, but few were clear-cut. Instead, they settled for ambitious headers and disappointing crosses.
Burnley's season has been plagued by inconsistency. Positive results against the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur mean absolutely nothing if the Clarets fall to defeats against Palace and Newcastle United.
If anyone can escape the bottom 3, it will be at the expense of Burnley. They’re a mess. There aren’t many points available for them for the rest of the season either— Mike Samsel (@MikeSamsel) March 2, 2019
No spark today.— John Merlin (@johnmerrylin) March 2, 2019
In fact, the only consistent thing about Burnley in recent weeks has been their team sheet. Dyche has fielded the same starting lineup in seven of their last eight fixtures - time for a change?
Star Man - Ashley Barnes
Burnley lacked any real spark at Turf Moor, but that certainly was not down to lack of effort from Ashley Barnes. The striker was a constant menace, although regularly found himself lacking a finishing touch.
He worked tirelessly to try claw Burnley back into the game, and his late consolation goal was a deserved reward for the 29-year-old, who has now managed five goals in his last six Premier League games.
His efforts did not go unnoticed by Burnley fans, who expressed their delight at Barnes' performance on Twitter.
Ashley Barnes 🥰— Lars Valheim (@LValheim) March 2, 2019
Ashley Barnes is on a madness this season. I remember when he wasn’t even good enough for Albion in he championship days— o (@LemonyTee94) March 2, 2019
Key Talking Point
For the first half of the season, many criticised Palace's lack of goalscoring threat. Strikers were inefficient, and Wilfried Zaha was expected to carry the team far too often. However, goals do not look like a problem anymore, and that is largely down to the loan signing of Michy Batshuayi.
The Belgian has struggled for consistency in recent years, but his goalscoring pedigree is rarely questioned. Batshuayi took the Bundesliga by storm last season, and he is threatening to do the same in England. This was his second goal in three starts for Palace, who look to be much more confident in the knowledge that they have a reliable poacher in the penalty area.
Michy Batshuayi is a STEAL for Palace, he'll keep them up easy.— CasualChris (@MadClaret94) March 2, 2019
Lmaooo, Zaha and his twin, Batshuayi both scored. Crystal Palace are moving mad.— Simeon Creflo Naira. (@Simeonmike_) March 2, 2019
Opposing defenders are forced to take notice of him, which gifts Zaha plenty of space in which to work his magic. The duo have already formed an impressive partnership, and all signs suggest Palace will have few issues in front of goal for the remainder of the season.
Starting XI: Hennessey (5); Wan-Bissaka (6), Dann (8*), Tomkins (6), van Aanholt (6); Meyer (5), Kouyate (5), Milivojevic (5), Schlupp (6); Zaha (7), Batshuayi (7).
Substitutes: McArthur (6), Benteke (N/A), Townsend (N/A).
Star Man - Scott Dann
In the first half, Palace needed to show real composure and determination to fend off a determined Burnley side, and that is exactly what they got from Scott Dann. The 32-year-old was handed his first start of the season in Mamadou Sakho's absence, but any fears of rustiness were quickly eradicated.
Dann barely put a foot wrong all game, winning countless battles both in the air and on the ground to keep Burnley at bay. The highlight of Dann's performance came shorty after the break, as he executed a stunning last-ditch challenge to prevent Barnes from giving the hosts a lifeline in the game early in the second half.
It was an excellent performance from Dann, and fans took to Twitter to praise the experienced centre-back.
Fantastic PL return for Scott Dann, after 14 moths since his last start.— Stuart Shave (@shave_stuart) March 2, 2019
You forget how prime Beckenbauer-esque Scott Dann is— 🥽 (@paIacejosh) March 2, 2019