How it played out as Vincent Kompany substitutions inspire Burnley to comeback win against Sunderland
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Dan Neil and Amad Diallo put Sunderland 2-0 up before goals from Nathan Tella, substitute Manuel Benson, Anass Zaroury and Josh Brownhill in the second half completed a stunning comeback win on Wearside.
Vincent Kompany named two changes to his starting XI following the midweek match away to Birmingham City with Ashley Barnes coming into the side at the point of Burnley’s attack, replacing Jay Rodriguez who dropped to the bench.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson – who scored off the bench in the 1-1 draw against the Blues on Wednesday evening in the Championship – took club captain Jack Cork’s place in the team.
In Cork’s absence, Josh Brownhill – playing in his usual number 10 position behind Barnes – wore the armband at the Stadium of Light as Burnley began the clash in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Vitinho as left-back and Conor Roberts on the opposite flank of the Claret’s defence.
Sunderland started in a shape similar to Burnley’s with Alex Pritchard as the central attacking midfielder drifting in between the lines and linking the play for the Wearsiders, causing central defenders Charlie Taylor and Harwood-Bellis some early issues.
Burnley worked the first half-opening of the game before Gudmundsson was yellow carded within the first two minutes after he hacked down Sunderland’s Manchester United loanee, Amad Diallo, on the edge of the home side's box. Jack Clarke then had the game’s first attempt on goal in the third minute but Muric was equal to the tame shot.
It was Sunderland who took the lead in the 16th minute after Pritchard danced around Burnley’s back-line to play in Clarke before the striker spotted Amad in acres of space, the Ivorian then slotting home a simple finish with Burnley left-back Vitinho nowhere to be seen.
Just three-and-a-half minutes later Dan Neil smashed in a second for Sunderland after Elliot Embleton’s cross from Burnley’s left-hand side was headed aimlessly into the air by Roberts. Kompany’s men huffed and puffed but didn’t create any clear-cut openings before heading into the break 2-0 down at half-time.
Winger Manuel Benson replaced Barnes with Nathan Tella moving into a striking tole as Burnley looked to inject life into their performance in the second stanza – and it paid off after a Burnley corner was headed home by Tella from close range in the 50th minute.
Sunderland still posed some threat on the break, however, with Amad and Embleton both having shots on Muric’s goal before Benson’s cross-come-shot nearly caught goalkeeper Anthony Patterson out.
But Patterson wasn’t so lucky in the 60th minute when substitute Benson levelled for the away side after the Sunderland goalkeeper was unsighted. Seconds later, though, Clarke has a shot saved one-on-one by Muric in a crucial intervention by the Swiss stopper.
Sunderland looked to break Burnley’s second-half dominance but it was the Kompany’s men who took the lead for the first time after Zaroury’s right-footed curler left Patterson with no chance.
Kompany opted for Cork and Rodriguez to sure things up from the bench following the goal, with Gudmundson and Tella making way. Minutes later Samuel Bastien replaced Zaroury. Brownhill made it 4-2 with minutes towards the end to conclude a stunning comeback by Burnley.
After the game, Burnley boss Kompany stated that he “hated everything about the first half” against Sunderland but praised his team for their reaction to a “fantastic” home side.
“In all fairness, Sunderland did fantastic, they had a lot of injuries,” Kompany stated. “They are going through a period where they have had to find solutions to difficult problems and they did ever so well.
“I think whatever the manager said before the game, I think it worked out much better than what we said and what we did. The point is that it was a tough game.”
On his players, Kompany added: “I keep telling them. It is Burnley. You are not somewhere in London or Madrid or wherever. You are in Burnley. The only way to gain respect from people is to work hard. It is an incredible grind.
“If you put that forward, people will forgive you if you have a bad game but that wasn’t the story of the first half. Then the second half, like I said, it was beyond anything. You can’t even expect what they did in the second half. It was relentless and I am really happy for that.
“To be fair to the lads, I don’t think we have sat here too many times questioning intensity and energy. After the first half was the first time. When you’re down, there’s not too much to lose.
“We have the players to come back. I wasn’t disappointed with the positions in the first half that we were getting in, it’s just we couldn’t beat our direct opponent. In the second half, these players did it and that was the difference.
“This was the biggest lesson we could have had. I’m not going to say we got away with it because the performance was too good in the second half but we all know it could have been a really poor day and it would have been our own doing. Well, not just our own doing as that is unfair as I think Sunderland were really good and we just weren’t at it.
"The lesson is that you never give up and if you drop your standards you’re bang average. It is as simple as that.”
When asked about a potential injury to goalscorer Zaroury after he hobbled off towards the end against Sunderland Kompany remained upbeat. "We will see. It seems to be just a kick and as a winger, you will get them.”