PHOTOS: Burnley 1, Cardiff City 1
Cardiff City were crowned champions at Turf Moor while substitute David Edgar's late header in the 1-1 draw pushed the Clarets closer to Championship safety.
After Huddersfield Town’s 3-0 triumph over Millwall in the other earlier kick-off it seemed likely that Sean Dyche’s side would be fully embroiled in a battle to avoid the bottom three with two games remaining. However, Edgar had other ideas as his header crept in at the near post from Kieran Trippier’s cross in the final minute of normal time.
Make no mistake, the Clarets aren’t in the clear yet and a significant improvement is needed. The Clarets lined up 4-2-3-1 in front of the Sky cameras, hoping to add to one shot on target in 180 minutes of football, though Ross Wallace’s tame 30-yard drive midway through the half was the only time David Marshall was forced to save in the opening 45 minutes.
Instead it was the Bluebirds who dominated the ball and worked the pockets of space to perfection. Kim Bo-Kyung was the inventive driving force in midfield while Rudy Gestede posed a physical nuisance in the final third and it was the latter who went close early on when his lofted half-volley from Craig Noone’s pass narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Gestede and Kim were at the heart of the action again moments later as the pair combined to tee up Aron Gunnarsson from captain Andrew Taylor’s free-kick, but the Icelandic midfielder drilled comfortably wide of the target.
Like the Clarets of late, they refused to play out from the back and retain possession which gifted the visitors the ball as they commanded their aerial battles, sweeping up the long, unambitious passes forward, with striker Sam Vokes isolated.
The waves of City attacks were returning in an instant and Lee Grant palmed over his bar after Turner’s precise, crossfield ball found Conway and the winger cut inside before testing the keeper as his centre clipped off full-back Trippier. South Korean midfielder Kim went close after driving at Kevin Long before firing wide of the near post with Grant plunging to his right.
Dean Marney sliced well wide after good work from Danny Ings but just before the half-hour the Bluebirds scored the goal that could seal the title. Kim supplied the pass in to Conway who stepped inside, averted the attentions of Trippier and Long, before placing an exquisite shot beyond Grant and in to the corner.
The second half was also a drab affair as the Clarets struggled to break through their hosts. Edgar and Martin Paterson were introduced at the expense of Junior Stanislas and Wallace as Dyche switched to 4-3-3 but still there was little output.
Paterson headed over from the edge of the six-yard box after McCann flicked on Trippier’s long throw while Marney was cautioned by referee Stuart Atwell for throwing himself to ground under the challenge of Gunnarsson inside the area.
The Clarets pressed, untested in defence, as they sought the leveller, but despite throwing men forward they continued to be frustrated. Marshall produced a sublime, reflex save to push Ings’s fierce volley to safety after the striker had latched on to Paterson’s lofted pass and at that moment you wondered whether that would be Burnley’s chance gone.
However, with the clock ticking down, Trippier’s long throw was returned to him via the head of Turner and the full back’s cross to the back post was met by Edgar who guided the ball in to the corner despite the best efforts of Marshall.
The full-time whistle prompted relieved gasps from the home support while City’s travelling fans and players celebrated together as a draw was enough to secure the Championship title following Hull City’s stalemate with already relegated Bristol City on Friday evening.