TWO sensational strikes from Craig Mackail-Smith and a Gordon Greer header condemned the Clarets to their third successive Championship defeat.
The Seagulls striker netted in spectacular fashion in each half, one a stunning volley and the second a sublime acrobatic attempt, to secure maximum points for Brighton at Turf Moor.
The Clarets kept possession well in the opening stages of the half, calmly advancing upfield with patient passages of play, but they lacked the precision or craft to work a way past their opponent's rearguard.
Kieran Trippier's floated, inswinging free-kick just needed a touch as it swept through a crowd of players in the area before flashing past the far post while debutant Cameron Stewart, who signed on loan from Hull City on deadline day, fired over the bar after getting a sight of goal.
Neither side was tidy on the ball; Gus Poyet's men opted for hopeful passes in to the channels while the Clarets proved uneconomical, indecisive and laboured. Burnley lacked tempo, fluency or invention and they paid the price.
In the 18th minute Mackail-Smith, whose movement throughout the game caused ample problem's for Burnley's defence, smashed his volley beyond Lee Grant from the edge of the box after Liam Bridcutt's set-piece had been chested in to his path by skipper Greer.
After the breakthrough the game took a heated turn, unaided by oblivious referee Eddie Illderton, with unrestricted and uncontrolled challenges becoming prevalent.
But that failed to lift the spirits of a restless home crowd or lift the performance of Eddie Howe's men, though Joseph Mill's went close with a set-piece that had Tomasz Kuszczak scrambling towards his post in the closing stages.
Howe made an immediate tactical change in the second half, replacing Marvin Bartley with Martin Paterson, and the addition of the striker's effort and pace rejuvenated the home side for a period. After Kazenga LuaLua raced on to Mackail-Smith's threaded pass and slotted just wide of the far post, the Clarets showed more intent, purpose and desire.
Paterson led the drive as Austin climbed above Greer before heading over the angle from Trippier's cross. Then, on the hour, the Clarets levelled. The ball was worked out to Stanislas on the left and his teasing cross was glanced beyond Kuszczak by Greer.
Ross Wallace was then introduced in place of Stewart and again the hosts pressed. Stanislas should have done better with a free header from Wallace's centre, Austin, at full stretch, then almost connected with Chris McCann's enticing cross, Kuszczak denied an Austin header from Mills's deep cross, while the former Manchester United stopper superbly turned Wallace's stinging drive from distance over the bar.
But the day belonged to Brighton who were bright, energetic and fluent in their movement. They were everything the Clarets were lacking. Ashley Barnes went close to restoring the lead when his volley dipped wide of Grant's post via a deflection off Jason Shackell and Grant produced a fantastic save to deny Mackail-Smith's venomous half-volley with a strong hand.
However, moments later the goal arrived and it was another delightful effort, encompassing the ingredients of 'that' Wayne Rooney strike in the Manchester derby last year. Bruno, who was industrious and a contender for man of the match, provided the cross and Mackail-Smith swivelled before firing a sensational, acrobatic effort past Grant from 12 yards.
Kuszczak again produced another fine reflex save to deny Austin who had no right to win Shackell's lofted cross, but that stop was reward for the away side's endeavour. Substitute Will Buckley twisted inside the area, worked the space but dragged his right-footed effort wide as Brighton looked to put the game to bed and that's exactly what happened in the 88th minute as Greer rectified his earlier error to head home, unmarked, from Andrea Orlandi's corner to make it 3-1.