Burnley 3, Bournemouth 0 - Chris Boden’s match verdict

It’s remarkable over a 38-game season how you can often identify one key moment, a turning point.

It’s not as simple as that, obviously, but last season, you could point to the home win over West Ham which led to a sea-change in Burnley’s fortunes.

This season’s turning point wasn’t one game as such, it was one moment within a game - Nick Pope’s penalty save against Leicester at Turf Moor.

Since staring down the barrel of a 2-1 deficit, and possibly an eighth defeat in 10, the Clarets went on to win that game, and then three of the following four.

From being two points above the drop zone, Sean Dyche’s side are three points from fifth, and what could be a Champions League place.


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We had another sliding doors moment at the Turf on Saturday, as the game turned dramatically on one of the more contentious VAR interventions of the season.

Bournemouth had already had a goal harshly - although, by the somewhat pedantic letter of the law, probably correctly - chalked off for handball against Phil Billing, before Matej Vydra built on his first goal in 17 months with the opener.

And when Dwight McNeil’s cross held up in the swirling wind and caught left back Adam Smith’s arm - and it was his arm, despite Match of the Day protestations - everyone of a Claret and Blue persuasion wanted a penalty.

The ball broke upfield and Callum Wilson fed namesake Harry to poke home an equaliser - or so he thought, as VAR brought play back to hand Burnley a spot kick.


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Again, it was harsh on the Cherries, as 1-1 potentially became 2-0, but, again, you would suggest the decision was ultimately the right one.

Jay Rodriguez did what he does, scored against Bournemouth, as he kept his nerve and composure to fire high to Aaron Ramsdale’s left hand.

And Burnley did what they do, beating the Cherries for a sixth time in eight in the Premier League.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for former Clarets boss Eddie Howe, especially in Bournemouth’s current plight, two points above the bottom three.


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By the end, however, the margin of victory could have been any number - McNeil hit the post before later adding a third, while Rodriguez and Vydra couldn’t take further chances to add to their tally.

Much of that was Bournemouth’s spirit being broken by the pendulum swing from

1-1 to 2-0, but it was mainly Burnley’s slick football, with McNeil unplayable at times as he drifted inside and out, while Vydra and Rodriguez showed their football intelligence, linking to great effect.

The back four, and keeper Nick Pope, looked secure in the second half as they collected a 10th clean sheet of the season, only bettered by Liverpool, and the midfield, after a testing first half, took control after the break, pushed on by the drive of Ashley Westwood in particular.


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Burnley now have more points than at the same stage two years ago when they finished seventh and earned Europa League football - albeit then, the side won five games on the spin to effectively seal a return to the continent.

Back then, the growing understanding of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes was pivotal.

In the absence of the latter, Rodriguez has made himself undroppable, proving an excellent foil for Wood, before Vydra filled the void after the Kiwi’s hamstring injury.

Everyone knew what a good player Rodriguez was, after blossoming at Burnley, before a record sale in 2012.


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He has returned, after six years in the Premier League, a far more rounded player.

His technical ability was no secret, but his selflessness, and ability to play anywhere off the front, or as a number nine, mean he is tailor made to combine with any of his potential partners.

Dyche said after the game: “I always think when two centre forwards are linking together, it's a very powerful thing, it's hard to play against, when they literally link.”

Rodriguez has shown he can dovetail nicely with all his strike partners, and you wonder how many goals he would have plundered had he started more regularly.


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Vydra is also making up for lost time, far more so than Rodriguez. Things just didn’t click for him in his first 18 months with the club, but all of a sudden he is showing why the club laid out £11m for his services.

Not lightning quick, but with enough mobility and clever movement to stretch the pitch, he was looking to twist and turn inside the area all afternoon, and might have had a hat-trick but for Ramsdale.

His partnership with Rodriguez is a mouth-watering one, giving the side more possibilities in terms of their build up play. They are less predictable, and more pleasing on the eye at present, allowing similarly technically-gifted players such as McNeil and Westwood to bounce off them.

Wood and Barnes remain huge assets, and their goal tally over a sustained period speaks for itself.


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But they have a job on to get back in the side when fit.

It is the ideal scenario for Dyche, who, to his credit, has always spoken of his striking options as a quartet, despite Vydra’s lack of opportunities.

Could the four fire Burnley to a second top 10 finish in three seasons, or, even more remarkably, another European tour?

Why not dream? With Premier League football all but assured again, the pressure is on the sides in and around Burnley, with the Clarets not really on anyone’s radar outside Turf Moor in that respect.