Burnley’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League suffered a severe blow as Kevin Mirallas’s goal gave Everton a 1-0 win at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The Clarets defeat, allied to a win for Leicester over Swansea, saw Sean Dyche’s men drop to the bottom of the table on goal difference with just five league games left to play this season.
Burnley were forced to play the second half with 10 men following a red card for Ashley Barnes while Everton’s match-winner Mirallas could consider himself fortunate not to have been dismissed following an incident early in the second half.
Everton, well on top throughout the first half, also squandered a glorious opportunity to take control of the game when they failed with a ninth minute penalty, a miss that once more opened the debate about the Merseyside club’s spot-kick policy.
The award came after David Jones tripped Aaron Lennon a full yard outside the area, although the Everton winger’s momentum took him into the box and duped referee Mike Jones into mistakenly giving the penalty.
Ross Barkley strode up but his shot failed to find the left-hand corner of the net and Tom Heaton’s dive was sufficient to block.
Leighton Baines, who missed the first penalty of his career in October, has scored 14 of his 15 career Premier League penalties but spot-kick duties have been a major headache for Everton manager Roberto Martinez since Belgium winger Mirallas snatched the ball and insisted on taking one in a goalless draw with West Brom in January and duly missed.
Fortunately for Everton, it was Mirallas who ensured the latest miss would not prove too costly when he subsequently opened the scoring in the 29th minute.
James McCarthy crossed from the right with Arouna Kone running over the ball in the centre of the area, allowing it to run onto Mirallas who mis-controlled but recovered his composure sufficiently to stab the loose ball past Heaton.
That was no more than the hosts deserved for a half of complete dominance.
Not until going a goal down did Burnley seriously threaten but Jones wasted the chance of an instant response to the opening goal when he hurried his shot over after neat approach play by Danny Ings.
– Mirallas escape –
However, any hope of a much-needed point for the visitors looked ever more distant in first-half injury time when they were reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card being shown to midfielder Barnes, who had tripped Seamus Coleman.
An opportunistic near-post effort by Kone almost caught Heaton by surprise, with the Burnley keeper bundling the ball away from the foot of his post but Everton were fortunate that they were not a man down themselves after 51 minutes when Mirallas escaped with a caution for stamping on George Boyd’s leg.
Kieran Trippier’s corner had flashed through the six-yard area in between those incidents but that was a rare moment’s relief for the visitors who enjoyed a 56th minute reprieve when McCarthy shot high and wide, unmarked from 12 yards, following an accurate Lennon centre.
Baines’s 20-yard shot was well held by the diving Heaton who saved in similar fashion after Lennon appeared on the end of a flowing, four-man move to gather Kone’s lay-off and shoot too close to the Burnley keeper.
Coleman, Gareth Barry and McCarthy all failed from promising positions before Burnley were granted a glorious chance to equalise, five minutes frim time, only for the unmarked Ings to head over Trippier’s cross from seven yards.
Photo Credits : AFP