Burnley's last-gasp cup win against Nottingham Forest was just what the doctor ordered

It may “only” be the cup, which is by no means an attempt to denigrate the competition, but a win to get up and running for the season was very much what the doctor ordered.
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Burnley boss Vincent Kompany provides Hjalmar Ekdal injury update after defender...

It’s been a tricky start to the season, as a result of the fixture list more than anything having thrown up opening games against Manchester City and Aston Villa, two sides in Europe this season, and Ange Postecoglu’s revitalised Spurs this weekend.

So to get that monkey off their back in their third fixture of the campaign should help calm nerves a little bit as the Clarets look to find their feet back in the top flight.

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The fact the victory came against a fellow top flight side will have helped too, even if it was a game in which both sides made wholesale changes, as is seemingly the way nowadays.

For Forest, it was seven, and the absence of their dangerous forward line – Morgan Gibbs-White, Brennan Johnson and Taiwo Awoniyi – was noticeable.

But that’s no excuse for Steve Cooper and indeed he refused to use it as one post-match. In any case, Burnley made three more changes anyway with 10 in total. And yet it didn’t seem to affect their performance at all, if anything the starting XI that took to the pitch looked as well drilled and cohesive as ever.

In control

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley scores the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley scores the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley scores the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Burnley dominated possession at the City Ground, enjoying 60 per cent of the ball, and their press was effective from the get-go. Their passing was crisp and incisive and, despite being put under pressure time and time again playing out from the back, Arijanet Muric – making his first appearance of the season in goal – and the backline in front of him never panicked and always remained composed on the ball as they looked to pass their way out.

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Vincent Kompany’s men, by and large, controlled the game on opposition turf. They limited Forest to very little other than one or two brief threats on the counter-attack. The fact the hosts didn’t have a single shot on target all night tells its own story.

If we’re being honest, Burnley weren’t exactly creating chance after chance either. It was a game relatively low on clear-cut opportunities, but the visitors always looked the more likely.

They got into some great areas time and time again, wide men Jacob Bruun Larsen and Nathan Redmond in particular picking up the ball deep before embarking on driving runs towards the Forest goal. But in the final third they just lacked that final ball, that final cross or shot to make a real difference.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Hjalmar Ekdal of Burnley is stretchered off by medical staff having picked up an injury during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Hjalmar Ekdal of Burnley is stretchered off by medical staff having picked up an injury during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Hjalmar Ekdal of Burnley is stretchered off by medical staff having picked up an injury during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

That was until the very last minute of normal time anyway, when substitute Zeki Amdouni produced a real moment of quality to send the near 3,000 travelling fans housed behind the goal into raptures.

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It was a real clever piece of work to chest the ball down in a congested Forest box before slashing home from close-range. Not a bad way, or time for that matter, to score your first Burnley goal. Let’s hope it’s the first of many in a Clarets shirt.

A shout out to fellow substitute Sander Berge as well, who helped create the opening with a powerful driving run through the centre of the park. Both men made a real impact off the bench.

At the time you’re thinking ‘right, that’s game, set and match’. But given the stoppages of the three Burnley injuries, the third of which saw Hjalmar Ekdal stretchered off after being administered oxygen, we still had 11 minutes of stoppage-time to endure.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: An animated Vincent Kompany, Manager of Burnley, instructs his players during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: An animated Vincent Kompany, Manager of Burnley, instructs his players during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: An animated Vincent Kompany, Manager of Burnley, instructs his players during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

But Burnley managed the game well and, despite Forest throwing more and more men forward, they didn’t really create anything of note. Muric helped with that, coming off his line time and time again claiming crosses into his box to help relieve pressure on the men in front of him.

Bittersweet

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Unfortunately, as touched upon before, this win came at a cost for the Clarets, who were dealt a triple injury blow with Ekdal, Vitinho and Aaron Ramsey all coming off.

Hopefully there’s some good news on that front ahead of this weekend’s return to league action, otherwise it would put a real dampener on what felt like a big night for Kompany’s charges.

Everybody knows Premier League survival is the main objective this season, but a cup run – as we witnessed last season – is always welcome. I’ve never subscribed to the view that it has to be one or the other anyway.

Why can’t a squad as talented as Burnley’s, with its depth on the bench, thrive back in the top flight while making it to the latter rounds of both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup?

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley celebrates with Wilson Odobert of Burnley after scoring the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley celebrates with Wilson Odobert of Burnley after scoring the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Zeki Amdouni of Burnley celebrates with Wilson Odobert of Burnley after scoring the team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on August 30, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
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Salford City in the third round is far from a gimme, they’ve just beaten Leeds United for a start. But it’s a good draw which will hopefully see Burnley make it into the last-16.

It’s also an interesting one for the fans, given the Clarets have never played Salford before and it will be a new ground to tick off for many.

For those that don’t get tickets, you would imagine there’s a good chance of the tie being selected for live coverage anyway with Gary Neville on commentary yet again, as is completely normal for the co-owner of a club (sarcasm alert).

If Burnley can build on this with a positive result against Spurs on Saturday – three would be preferable but one would be okay – that should stand them in good stead heading into the first international break of the season.