Burnley 4, Sunderland 1

For the second season in succession striker Andre Gray culminated the calendar year with a hat-trick as the Clarets moved nine points clear of the Premier League drop zone with a 4-1 win over Sunderland at Turf Moor.

Saturday, 31st December 2016, 5:19 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:22 pm
Andre Gray celebrates his hat-trick

Last term the 25-year-old put three past Bristol City to spark a 23-game unbeaten run for the Clarets in the Championship.

And he emulated that haul for 2016, taking his tally to five for the campaign as Sean Dyche's side registered a seventh win on home soil.

Both sides missed the target early on; Adnan Januzaj was the first guilty party when scooping over the bar from Victor Anichebe's knock back before Andre Gray sliced wide from the edge of the box after collecting Stephen Ward's pass.

With record signing Jeff Hendrick suspended for the fixture against the Black Cats having picked up a fifth booking of the term against Middlesbrough, summer signing Steven Defour stepped in to fill the vacancy.

And the Belgium international certainly made his mark, orchestrating the game from the middle of the park and adding zip to Burnley's passages of play.

The hosts were the more aesthetically pleasing, looking assured and purposeful in possession, and Ashley Barnes was unfortunate not to add to his tally when guiding Matt Lowton's delivery just over the bar having got the better of Billy Jones.

Sunderland haven't ended a year with victory since 2007 and their task was made slightly more challenging when Lamine Kone limped off with just half-an-hour gone.

And the defender's absence was felt immediately. Papy Djilobodji and John O'Shea both challenged Barnes from Scott Arfield's hoisted pass forward, the visiting skipper inadvertently flicked the ball on for Gray and the striker made no mistake when thumping the ball past Vito Mannone.

Ward went close to doubling the lead when getting beyond Jones to meet Lowton's cross at the back post but the Republic of Ireland international prodded the ball wide of the upright.

Soon after, following another good move involving Lowton and Gray down the right hand side, Arfield was picked out infield, central to goal, but his shot slid past the post.

Burnley had the fifth best home record in the top flight going in to the New Year's Eve clash, accumulating 19 points from their 10 games, but they hadn't cut a team open like they did against Sunderland.

Gray could've extended the lead early in the second half when he breached the away side's back line with ease only to see Mannone fall to his left to save with a strong hand.

However, the striker made no mistake from his next invitation. Djilobodji was caught flat-footed from Deamn Marney's lofted pass and Gray spun away from the defender before rounding Mannone and tapping the ball in to an empty net.

Two minutes later last season's top scorer completed his hat-trick. Defour's measured ball forward was helped in to the penalty area by Barnes and Gray obliged with a beautifully composed finish, tucking the ball in to the corner.

But Burnley weren't finished there. Arfield failed to make the most of his time and space inside the penalty area when tamely guiding Boyd's pull back in to the gloves of Mannone.

The home side did add a fourth in the 67th minute when referee Graham Scott had no option but to point to the spot when Arfield was bundled over in the box by Seb Larsson.

Barnes stepped up to take on the responsibility from 12 yards out and struck the ball low to his right hand side to add his third of the season.

The visitors did grab a consolation in the 71st minute when the Clarets failed to halt Januzaj's drive towards goal and the Sunderland winger lifted the ball over the head of Ben Mee and in to Jermain Defoe who converted from close range.