English Premiership

Sako strikes at the heart of Burnley

Goal (AFP)
Goal (AFP)

Cape Town - Crystal Palace claimed a massive three points with their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday.

Palace started well with Wilfred Zaha and Bakary Sako looking lively before Wayne Hennessey was off his line quickly to stop Ashley Barnes from releasing Sam Vokes into the area at the other end.

James Tarkowski did well to block a Sako shot on eight minutes as Luka Milivojevic's volley, from a Patrick Van Aanholt corner, was also blocked.

Palace were then denied a 12th minute penalty, when Sako appeared to be upended by James Tarkowski, although the defender did get a toe to the ball.

But the hosts were soon ahead, through the Malian international, on 21 minutes. Sako cut in from the left hand side and arrowed a shot through the legs of Tarkowski and past a stranded Nick Pope.

Zaha then came close to a second when one-on-one with Pope, but his dinked effort was stolen off the toe of McArthur by Ben Mee. 

Christian Benteke headed a Milivojevic corner over the Burnley crossbar on 28 minutes, as Sam Vokes flashed a header, from a Johann Berg Gudmundsson delivery, just wide with the half winding down, ahead of a finger-tip save from a Barnes volley.

And Sako went close to a thunderous second, on the volley, for the last chance of an entertaining first period.

It was a slow start to the second half, with Sako unable to head a Timothy Fosu-Mensah cross on target on 54 minutes, before Vokes headed a Gudmundsson delivery into the side-netting.

The quality of the tie remained relatively low but the intensity increased as the game wore on as Burnley tried desperately to get forward.

Loan signing Georges-Kevin N'Koudou replaced Jeffrey Hendrick on the hour mark and immediately injected some skill to the Burnley attack, and so nearly set up Gudmundsson with an incisive pass, only for McArthur to clear.

Benteke had a shot deflected over on 70 minute as Hennessey easily gathered a Vokes effort on 78.

Tarkowski was then well placed to turn a McArthur effort behind after linking up with Zaha, as Palace threatened to kill off the game with a second goal.

And while Barnes came within inches of poking the ball past Hennessey, and Benteke hit the side netting, the game ended in favour of Palace, who edged further away from the relegation places with this massive three points.

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