Burnley 1, Brighton 2 FT
Pope, two years to the day since dislocating his shoulder at Aberdeen in the Europa League, was desperate for a 16th shut out of the season, but was beaten by a stunning strike from Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma 20 minutes in, meaning he was hoping on Norwich spoiling Ederson’s clean sheet at the Etihad Stadium.
A goal for the relegated Canaries wasn’t forthcoming, however, although back at Turf Moor, former Seagulls striker Chris Wood levelled matters with his 14th of the season just before half-time.
But the Seagulls went back in front shortly after the restart with a fine finish from striker Aaron Connolly.
Jay Rodriguez thought he had found a second equaliser, but his header from an Ashley Westwood corner was ruled out by VAR for offside against Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Sean Dyche named an unchanged side from the one which won 2-0 at relegated Norwich City to go seven games unbeaten, which meant Pope, James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil had started all 38 League games this season.
For McNeil, he became only the sixth player under 21 to do so, joining Gary Kelly, Robbie Fowler, Frank Lampard, Wayne Bridge and Wayne Routledge.
Early on, Josh Brownhill was booked for tugging the lightning quick Tariq Lamptey, but Burnley we’re stunned not to earn a penalty when Jay Rodriguez robbed Dale Stephens, and the former Clarets target got back to nudge the forward in the back, sending him to ground.
Referee Jon Moss inexplicably gave nothing, and VAR didn’t overturn his decision either.
Shortly after, Bissouma won a challenge with Brownhill, and Wood’s scuffed clearance went straight to Bissouma, who sent a stunning right foot effort into the top left corner, giving Pope no chance.
Brighton could have added a second as Lamptey raced to the byeline and stood the ball up for Neal Maupay, who beat Kevin Long in the air, but headed against the bar, with Connolly sending an overhead kick wide front the rebound
And the visitors went close again, again with Lamptey’s pace too hot to handle, as he got away from Erik Pieters and picked out Alexis MacAllister, who could only shoot at Pope.
Burnley responded, with McNeil whipping in a ball to the far post, and Gudmundsson came off the line to head wide.
And right on half-time, Wood levelled with his 14th goal of the season.
Pieters clipped a ball over the top, and Wood peeled off the back of Lewis Dunk, controlling with his left foot before finishing clinically with his right.
After the restart, Brighton went close to regaining their lead as Dunk fed a ball down the right for Lamptey, but from his low centre, Connolly’s effort from a tight angle was blocked by Pope’s legs.
Moments later, Connolly did have his goal as strike partner Maupay fed the ball through, and he shrugged off Long before curling the ball into the far corner.
The goal survived a check for the ball going out of play during Maupay’s involvement, and Brighton eyed a top-flight record of seven successive away games undefeated.
Burnley thought they had pegged them back again, with Rodriguez again flexing his neck muscles to glance in Ashley Westwood’s corner.
However, VAR decided Gudmundsson was offside, despite making no effort to touch the ball, with keeper Mat Ryan well beaten.
The Clarets were twice denied by remarkable Brighton defending as first Dunk made a superb block to prevent a certain goal from Long from Tarkowski’s knockdown, then Wood headed on the corner, and Adam Webster headed against Stephens and over.
Burnley continued to knock at the door, and Rodriguez fired over from a nice set from Wood, and McNeil pulled an effort wide from 25 yards.
But they were unable to find a leveller as they suffered a first home defeat since New Year’s Day.