Photos: Burnley 2, QPR 0
Danny Ings scored twice as the Clarets extended their lead at the top of the Championship with a 2-0 win over QPR.
Burnley’s leading scorer struck in the 66th minute and then again from the spot in the 88th minute to cap a tremendous performance from the hosts.
While Harry Redknapp’s side saw plenty of the ball, with their distribution expertly effortless at times, they failed to find the invention or craft to penetrate an impeccably organised and disciplined Clarets rearguard.
In fact the only time the away side registered a shot on target came in the seventh minute when Niko Kranjcar’s diagonal pass caught Kieran Trippier flat-footed and Joey Barton found team-mate Karl Henry unmarked inside the area with a looping centre from the bye line, but the midfielder’s stinging first time effort was saved by Tom Heaton.
The Clarets stepped on to their opponents with purpose and Ings should’ve been awarded a penalty when intercepting Henry’s attempted pass to Danny Simpson across his own 18-yard line, but referee Andy Haines waved away the appeals despite Green sending the striker sprawling to the floor after being beaten to the loose ball.
Moments later, Clint Hill was forced to head over his own crossbar when under pressure from Sam Vokes after Green had spilled Trippier’s driven 20-yard free-kick. The Clarets carved the visitors open in the 25th minute when Trippier’s diagonal pass found a route through to Vokes, but the ball frustratingly escaped the striker’s control on the edge of the six yard box.
That endeavour married by the character and spirit of the Clarets squad saw frustration creep in to the away side’s display and persistent offenders Barton, Junior Hoilett and Richard Dunne were all yellow carded in the first half.
In the second half, QPR were again commanding in possession but they were unable to exploit the territory that would harm the Clarets. Sean Dyche’s men sat patiently, maintaining a rigid tactical framework, before springing forward energetically when the opportunity arose.
Loanee Michael Kightly saw an effort deflected wide after cutting inside Danny Simpson before Dean Marney was foiled at the final moment once Trippier and Vokes had combined in the build up.
Then came the breakthrough. Marney pressed and pressurised to dispossess Henry on the halfway line and fed Ings who traded passes with strike partner Vokes before opening up his body and finishing with sheer finesse to bend the ball around Green. Cue delirium inside Turf Moor.
Again there was evidence of another questionable showing from a match official, and it was Haines’s debatable decision to penalise Trippier for hand ball that led to QPR’s best chance of the game. Barton whipped in the free-kick to the back post, defender Clint Hill headed back across goal, but Dunne lifted his effort over the bar when well positioned from close range.
At that point Redknapp looked to the millions sat in the dug out, with Uruguayan international Javier Chevanton replacing Gary O’Neill while £5 million signing Matt Phillips was introduced at the expense of Spurs’ Croatian international Kranjcar. However, alongside former Claret Charlie Austin, the pair were anonymous.
In front of a crowd of 16,074, the hosts went within a whisker of extending their lead when Ings’s outstretched boot brushed Keith Treacy’s sublime cross in behind the QPR defence.
But the cushion was made much more comfortable with just minutes of normal time remaining when Vokes broke, eventually finding strike partner Ings to his left, and after driving in to the area, the division’s second most potent striker was tripped by Barton. Ings brushed himself off to take the spot kick, nonchalantly slotting in to the corner and sending Green the wrong way for his ninth league goal of the campaign and 13th in all competitions.
It was a result that saw the Clarets claim their eighth clean sheet of the season, and open up a three-point gap at the summit over Leicester City. Sean Dyche will now monitor the fitness of Dean Marney ahead of the Capital One Cup tie with West Ham United on Tuesday after the midfielder limped off, while David Jones will miss the tie after picking up his fifth booking of the term.