West Bromwich Albion 1, Burnley 2

Sean Dyche won't be drawn on talk of Europe just yet but the Burnley boss' 100th win in charge of the Clarets in all competitions has given their chances an even bigger boost.

Saturday, 31st March 2018, 6:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 31st March 2018, 7:20 pm
Ashley Barnes celebrates his spectacular opener with his team-mates

Victory against relegation-threatened West Brom at the Hawthorns preserves his side's advantage in the duel for seventh spot with just seven games of the season remaining.

Were Burnley to retain their position in the Premier League, one which they've held for a substantial amount of time, and anybody but Southampton lifted the FA Cup, then they would be pencilled in for the First Qualifying round of the Europa League in the summer.

Ashley Barnes celebrates his spectacular opener with his team-mates

A knock sustained on international duty forced Burnley's most experienced European player, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, out of the trip to the Midlands, affording Spurs winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou his first start.

And Jeff Hendrick's withdrawal from the starting XI accommodated the pairing of record signing Chris Wood and in-form Ashley Barnes up front.

Nkoudou, with a point to prove, offered a glimpse of his potential early on when cutting on to his right foot, side-stepping Allan Nyom on the angle of the penalty area, but the winger's effort drifted wide.

The Baggies, who seem destined for the Championship, were in desperate need for something to spark their final stretch in to life and they almost got it.

Chris Wood is congratulated by fellow goalscorer Ashley Barnes

Nyom's delivery from the right hand side was helped on by former Claret Jay Rodriguez but Salomon Rondon couldn't beat Nick Pope with a header.

The visitors had the chance to open the scoring through the most unlikely of sources when Ben Foster kept out Ben Mee's shot but they did take the lead midway through the first half.

Ashley Barnes's fourth goal in successive games was spectacular, matching, if not bettering, the technique and execution of Wayne Rooney's famously acrobatic finish against Manchester City in 2011.

Aaron Lennon supplied the cross once Ashley Westwood's pass fortuitously landed at his feet and Barnes, facing away from goal, adjusted his body magnificently to fire the ball past Foster when airborne.

Ashley Barnes celebrates his spectacular opener with his team-mates

In doing so, the striker became the first Burnley player since John Murray in 1968 to score in four consecutive top flight games in the same season.

Wood had a couple of chances to extend the lead as the half wore on, flicking wide from Jack Cork's cross before being uncharacteristically wasteful from Nkoudou's pass.

The Frenchman, who has featured for Marseille and Nantes in Ligue 1, engineered the counter and picked out Wood unmarked on the far side. However, the striker took too long on the ball before dragging his attempt wide of the post.

Following his first international call up, Nick Pope revealed that he felt he was returning to Turf Moor as an even better goalkeeper.

Chris Wood is congratulated by fellow goalscorer Ashley Barnes

And the 25-year-old, named in the squad for England's games against the Netherlands and Italy, proved that statement to be accurate towards the end of the half, dropping to his left hand upright to keep out Rondon's header.

Alan Pardew's men upped the ante slightly in the second half but struggled to craft any genuine openings in front of goal to threaten Burnley's lead.

Rodriguez went close but his header from Jake Livermore's cross, having found space inbetween James Tarkowski and Stephen Ward, sailed over the crossbar.

After Westwood scuffed a volley wide from the edge of the box, the away side doubled the lead in the 73rd minute.

Pope's clearance was eventually worked in to the feet of Wood by Matt Lowton, the forward's initial effort was repelled by Foster despite an awkward deflection off Ahmed Hegazi but he was left with the simplest of finishes to head home from the rebound.

West Brom set up a nervy finish when Rondon turned Tarkowski to tuck the ball past Pope in the 83rd minute but the Clarets saw the game out to register their first win at the stadium since December 1969 when Steve Kindon scored the only goal of the game.