PHOTOS: Crystal Palace 4, Burnley 3
THERE'LL be plenty for Eddie Howe to evaluate over the international break after the Clarets let a two-goal lead slip against Crystal Palace.
Howe's side have now surrendered 13 points from winning positions this term, and on the majority of those occasions, with the exception of a few howitzers, they've been the instigators of their own downfall.
Eagles are known for their ability to spot prey from a distance, and they certainly had the Clarets in their sights after taking offence to their opponents nesting at Selhurst Park.
Goals from Chris McCann and Martin Paterson had given the away side the advantage before the half hour, but Dougie Freedman's side were resurrgent, halving the deficit before the break before asserting themselves in resounding fashion in the second half.
The visitors proved tactically astute in the early stages, restricting Palace with a balanced and organised display. By draining the space for the likes of Wilifried Zaha and Glenn Murray to work in, the hosts were limited to speculative attempts from outside the area.
It was Murray who carved the first opening of the fixture, feeding Kagisho Dikgacoi from the right who could only blaze over from the edge of the box. Murray was again the provider moments later when slotting the ball in to the path of Andre Moritz and the Brazilian drilled wide of the far post.
Ben Mee flashed an effort past Julian Speroni's post as the Clarets slowly built a rhythm, looking to pose an attacking threat. But it was Palace who continued to force the play - Yannick Bolasie was the next to try from distance, desperate to strike on goal as the Clarets rearguard squeezed the space, though Lee Grant caught his deflected effort comfortably.
Zaha and Bolasie again tried from the edge of the box, but neither could find the target as the home side struggled to find a breakthrough.
With Burnley's backline proving impermeable, the midfield trio of Chris McCann, Dean Marney and Marvin Bartley were allowed time to dictate the play, bringing wide players Martin Paterson and Junior Stanislas in to the fixture.
And it was the midfield's ability to retain possession in the middle of the park that freed time for Mee and Trippier to maraud forward. It was the latter's cross which led to the opening goal when Darcy Blake failed to deal with his cross with an ineffective header, Stanislas ghosted in to the box, whipped an effort towards the far post that Speroni tipped on to the woodwork, but McCann was on hand to fire in the rebound.
Three minutes later Howe's men doubled the advantage in spectacular fashion. Bartley found Paterson and the striker teed himself up before lifting a precise effort over Speroni and in to the back of the net for his second goal of the campaign.
At that stage it was imperative for the Clarets to maintain that cushion until the break, but it didn't happen. Murray found space in the centre circle as Palace broke, before slotting a piercing pass through the gulf between David Edgar and Trippier for Zaha to race on to on the outside, beating the full-back for speed, before slotting beyond Grant.
Unfortunately worse was to happen in the second half. The Clarets struggled to cope with Palace's energy and athleticism, particularly with their urgency on the break, and from Trippier's cleared centre Moritz mounted a three-on-two break before feeding Zaha who fired low past Grant as Edgar backed off.
The equaliser seemingly disorientated the Clarets, and with Palace sensing weakness they pushed men forward. Moritz fired a warning shot as his deflected drive forced Grant to push past the post but the away side failed to take heed and fell behind moments later. With Burnley's defence in disarray, Palace peppered the box with crosses before Edgar's header fell kindly for Damien Delaney and the defender snapped up the invitation to thump home.
Then, with quarter-of-an-hour remaining, the hosts grabbed their fourth courtesy of some shambolic defending once again. The danger once again arrived from Palace's left, courtesy of Dean Moxey, and Murray glided past his static markers to tap past Grant from close range. It was the 22nd league goal Howe's side had conceded, the worst record in the Championship.
A defensive slip offered Burnley a route back in to the game with just under 10 minutes remaining as Charlie Austin pounced in predatory fashion to apply a neat finish across Speroni, his 15th of the campaign, but despite a late onslaught it wasn't enough as Palace ran out 4-3 victors.