Burnley boss Sean Dyche hails "top keeper" Nick Pope after crucial penalty save against Leicester City

Sean Dyche hailed Nick Pope as a "top keeper" after his penalty save proved the turning point in a big win for Burnley.

Sunday, 19th January 2020, 5:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th January 2020, 5:10 pm

The Clarets trailed 1-0 at half-time to Leicester City, after a goal from Burnley-born Harvey Barnes, but Chris Wood equalised, only for Ben Mee to have been adjudged to have brought down Barnes.

Pope faced up to his former England colleague Jamie Vardy, and guessed right, diving to his left to make a pivotal stop.

Burnley went on to claim a huge three points as Ashley Westwood drilled in a winner 10 minutes from time, to leave Dyche's side five points clear of the bottom three - and six from seventh!

Ben Mee grabs Nick Pope to celebrate his penalty save

Dyche said: "I thought Popey was very good again, not because he had ridiculous amounts to do, but when he did, he made big saves.

"That's the important quality a big keeper has - a top keeper has - so not just the penalty, there were a couple of other moments where he made big saves just by standing up and being what he is, fast reactions from a big frame.

"Leicester are a good side, some energy, quality, they can find a moment even in a game when it's not quite their day, so, you're probably thinking it's unlikely they're not going to have chances.

"So you have to make sure you deliver your performance when they do, which we did, defensively and through Popey."

After a frantic second half, with so much at stake, Dyche was typically calm: "I'm alright, I can't remember the last time it (his heart) was exploding out of my chest...there's been a few, but not today.

"I think, if we're deserving of a twist, that's it, and we are deserving, we've been punished over the last few weeks so many times, and we were in the first half.

"I thought it was a good first half delivery, as regards the performance, we make a mistake, a possible foul in the modern game - everything seems to be a foul - but great credit to their lad, a great run and finish, but yet again punished.

"You've seen them where we get a block or a tackle in and it flies wide, and it doesn't, it goes in.

"But I was pleased with the first half, I thought it was a good performance, I reminded the players of that at half-time, and I thought the mentality going into the second half was fantastic, to take the game on.

"There was a freeness to our play, a method to it, which I was pleased with, and it's not easy when you're 1-0 down.

"I thought the crowd were brilliant, a few question marks, because we've moved the club forward, the expectation rises, but they were brilliant.

"They know this group will give them everything, and they need the crowd to be with them, and they certainly were today."

Burnley played with an urgency that has not always been there over a run of seven defeats in nine Premier League games, and Dyche added: "Really pleased with that (that edge), it's not easy, we;ve had a tough run of games and results, a few questions, as I said, but to handle all that and deliver that sort of performance, with that clarity, I thought was excellent.

"It shows the strength of the group and the character of the group.

"And a lot of good details within it as well. Ben Mee's header (for the equaliser) is outstanding. You can't take heading out of the game when you see something like that, it was just superb.

"What a header, and Woody is alive to nick one.

"And the second goal, I think the football building up to it is excellent, we're slightly lucky in that I don't think their lad clears it properly, but the build up play is terrific, so really pleased with that as well.

"Really good finish as well. I've spoken to Westy, I think he has real quality when he gets forward, I've spoken to him about whether he can look to add goals, his energy is relentless, he flies forward, sees it early, and hits it as clean as you'd like."

And he had no argument with the penalty award: "No complaints, but I think it's a tough one, as a centre half, you can see Ben loses his footing, but as he does, his leg does go too wide, and it's probably going to have to be a penalty.

"It probably is, that was my view. I thought he'd stumbled, so from a distance, I thought probably not, but it probably is in the end."