Jay Rodriguez scored against his former club as Southampton progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-3 win over the Clarets.
The 24-year-old, who scored 41 goals for the Clarets in all competitions before joining the Saints last summer, replaced the injured Rickie Lambert
as a first half substitute and went on to score his side’s third after the hour.
In an enthralling, action-packed third round tie, Mauricio Pochettino was reliant on his England internationals to edge the clash as Nathaniel Clyne, Lambert and Adam Lallana joined Rodriguez on the scoresheet with outstanding moments of quality.
Up until the opener, which arrived midway through the first half, worked tremendously, pressed the ball energetically while distributing it intelligently when in possession.
Early in the half, once Sam Vokes had forced Maya Yoshida to concede the throw in from Danny Lafferty’s pass, an intricate, one-touch move manipulated the
opening for Scott Arfield who almost repeated his goal against Blackpool with a delightful, curling attempt, that this time whistled past the upright.
The Saints struggled to find a momentum and failed to find a route beyond the Clarets. While Gaston Ramirez swept timidly in to the hands of Tom Heaton and then blazed wide with a wild shot from distance, the away side carved openings and only a recovery block from Yoshida denied Vokes after the Welshman had crept goal side of the Saints rearguard.
Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was then forced to palm Danny Ings’s dipping header from underneath his crossbar after the striker climbed above his marker
to meet Kieran Trippier’s cross.
However, there was nothing anybody could do to prevent Southampton’s opener. After defender Nathaniel Clyne robbed the ball from Arfield, the England Under 21 international retrieved possession again from Jack Cork before smashing a sublime drive from 20 yards that arrowed in to the top corner.
Clyne, among other youngsters at St Mary’s, is destined for a full international call-up for the Three Lions, and it was one of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup hopefuls that doubled the advantage, again in spectacular fashion.
If the opener deflated the Clarets, the second severely took the wind out of their performance. Just before the half hour mark, an exquisite move resulted in Ramirez and Steven Davis working the ball rhythmically to Lambert who took a touch, opened his body and fired an effort across Heaton that nestled in the top corner.
Shortly after Lambert went down with a dead leg, which ultimately paved the way for Rodriguez to face his former club. And he wasted no time in announcing his arrival when threading a penetrative pass in between Kevin Long and Trippier for Luke Shaw to latch on to, though Heaton denied the youngster at his near post.
Southampton’s dominance could’ve extinguished any confidence the Clarets may have had remaining, but Sean Dyche’s half-time team talk certainly worked wonders as his side fought back impeccably.
Just five minutes after the break, Vokes halved the deficit when steering a beautiful header in to the corner from Dean Marney’s cross, before Davis saved well from Ings’s strike on the turn from the angle of the penalty area. And, as the pressure increased, Davis was troubled as Vokes’s header looped over the bar from Trippier’s centre.
The equaliser arrived in the 57th minute, and it was well deserved. The goal epitomised the desire and tenacity of Burnley’s second half display as Ings chased the ball expeditiously down the right hand side, cut in to the penalty area, and somehow thumped the ball beyond Davis from an acute angle to send the travelling fans in to raptures.
The Clarets could’ve taken the lead moments later, as the hosts dropped deeper, but Vokes was denied from Ings’s assist when holding off his marker and firing goalwards, only for Davis to make a fantastic save as he flew to his right.
That prompted a change from Pochettino with Adam Lallana replacing Ramirez, while Junior Stanislas was introduced at the expense of Keith Treacy.
The Clarets looked comfortable for large periods of the second half, but the hosts harboured exceptional talent and they combined to restore their lead.
Rodriguez’s vision exceptionally picked out the run of Lallana, who was thwarted by Heaton who had dived at his feet, but the loose ball fell to the former Claret who hammered the ball in to the unguarded net.
But Dyche’s men refused to roll over, and went agonisingly close to an equaliser when once again piercing a route in to the box and finding the feet of Ings who instinctively turned and crashed an effort off the outside of the upright.
With Burnley pressing high, committing men forward in search of the leveller, the Saints broke and worked the ball to Lallana who had occupied the space in behind the away side’s midfield. From there, the England international, handed his debut alongside Rodriguez against Chile at Wembley, drove towards the box and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed effort that fizzed past Heaton and in to the corner.
Rodriguez had a couple of opportunities to end the tie, when an effort was deflected wide of the far post by Trippier before he lifted an effort over the bar from Davis’s clever pass.
At the other end, Davis then plunged to his right to deny Ings after the striker had raced past Shaw before Long set up a grandstand finish when turning Stanislas’s corner home from close range to make it 4-3.
But Southampton showed their Premier League pedigree to retain the ball well and see out the game to ensure it was they who were in the draw for the next round.