Football

Watford 1 – 2 Burnley

Burnley scored twice in the final seven minutes to complete a dramatic comeback that pulled them five points clear of the Premier League relegation zone and left hosts Watford on the brink of the drop.

Jack Cork’s diving header from Charlie Taylor’s left-wing cross cancelled out James Tarkowski’s early own goal, before Josh Brownhill found the bottom corner from the edge of the box to spark jubilant scenes among the travelling fans and in the away dugout at Vicarage Road.

Watford had taken a deserved early lead when Juraj Kucka’s fierce effort struck the crossbar before rebounding off the unfortunate Tarkowski and into the unguarded net.

The Hornets carried the greater threat in the first half, Kiko Femenia striking the near post from an inswinging corner and Joao Pedro blazing over the crossbar after escaping the Clarets defence.

Aaron Lennon and Ashley Barnes forced fine saves out of Ben Foster in the second half, but there was little the veteran goalkeeper could do about either of the visitors’ late goals, which came in the space of three minutes and stretched Mike Jackson’s unbeaten start as Clarets caretaker manager to four matches.

The Hornets’ 11th consecutive home defeat leaves them 12 points adrift of Burnley and Leeds – who play Manchester City later on Saturday – with only four games remaining.

Before Saturday, the only side in the top four tiers of English football to have lost more than 10 consecutive home league games were Rochdale, who suffered 14 straight defeats in Division Three North between 1931 and 1932.

It was all going so well for Watford, who were full of energy in the early stages and could have added to Tarkowski’s own goal.

Burnley’s captain had to fling himself in the way of another Kucka strike minutes after putting into his own net, before the returning Joao Pedro blazed over.

The visitors thought they had won a penalty when Dwight McNeil’s heels were clipped by Moussa Sissoko. However, the Frenchman’s challenge was deemed to be outside the box and McNeil struck the subsequent free-kick straight into the Hornets wall.

Watford continued to carry the greater threat, with Emmanuel Dennis forcing Nick Pope into a smart save at his near post following yet another Tarkowski deflection.

Burnley improved after the interval and a lapse in concentration early in the second half from Ismaila Sarr almost gifted Lennon an equaliser, but Foster produced a fine save low to his left to snuff out the danger.

The home side had opportunities to add to their lead on the counter-attack, but a combination of poor passing and wasteful finishing set up a nervous finish as Burnley slowly turned the screw.

Foster managed to tip Barnes’ powerful header on to the crossbar, but the warning went unheeded as Cork’s header restored parity with seven minutes remaining.

Brownhill completed the turnaround three minutes later, guiding a right-footed strike into the bottom corner after Watford had failed to properly clear McNeil’s free-kick.

This is the first time Burnley have won three Premier League games in a row since 2019, while Jackson also becomes the first manager to stay unbeaten in his first four top-flight matches in charge of the Clarets.

The last manager not to lose any of their first four league games with the club was Owen Coyle in 2007.

-bbc

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