Burnley sinks Fulham with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage to confirm the West London side’s Championship status for next season.
Scott Parker made one change to his Fulham team as Kenny Tete replaced Ola Aina at right back. Before the game, there was hope that Harrison Reed may be fit but he didn’t feature in the squad at all. Sean Dyche named an unchanged Burnley side after their narrow 2-1 defeat against West Ham a week ago.
The game today was a must-win for Fulham who had taken just one point from their previous six games, with even Sheffield United taking more points in that period than them. They knew they had to beat a well organised Burnley side, who knew themselves that a point would be enough to guarantee safety.
For a moment Fulham had hearts in their mouths as Burnley had the ball in the net, but it was correctly ruled out as Matej Vydra ever so slightly ran the ball out of play before crossing to find Chris Wood unmarked in the box An early let-off for the Cottagers.
The home side’s first effort came when Ivan Cavaliero beat two defenders by cutting in from the right and unleashing a fairly weak shot towards Nick Pope in goal. It was on target but they were going to have to do much better if they wanted to beat the England international goalkeeper and keep their survival hopes alive.
Burnley almost went ahead again with two glorious opportunities. The first saw winger Dwight McNeil pick out Wood in the box who’s header deflected off the defender and went agonisingly wide of the post. From the resulting corner, James Tarkowski rose highest to win the header but didn’t make a good enough contact to trouble the keeper. However, Wood was lurking around the six-yard area to pick up any loose balls which he almost did successfully but for a vital clearance off the line by Antonee Robinson.
The visitors started to wreak havoc on the Fulham defence and eventually got the breakthrough ten minutes before half time. A long ball was played forward to Vydra who squeezed past Tete, gets to the byline and manages to find Ashley Westwood who bundles it in from 12 yards out. Parker will be furious with the defending and the goal meant Fulham needed to turn things around desperately.
Things got a lot worse for Fulham as Burnley doubled their lead and Chris Wood deservedly got his goal. It was an unbelievable finish as the ball fell to him after a one-two with Josh Brownhill and he caught it beautifully on the turn to rifle it into the top corner. The keeper had no chance of stopping this one and Fulham’s task became near impossible.
As expected Fulham came out all guns blazing in the second half and were seeing plenty of the ball. They were also getting into some dangerous areas but didn’t quite have that quality for the final pass or finish. At the other end of the pitch, Alphonse Areola looked to have handled the ball while closing down Vydra outside the box. Yet after a brief VAR review, it was seen by the officials as ball-to-hand and the Frenchman was lucky not to see red.
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Fulham very nearly pulled one back through Andre-Frank Anguissa. Josh Maja pulls back the cross from the byline and finds Anguissa waiting on the edge of the box who rattles the crossbar with a sweetly struck effort that had Pope rooted to the spot. The cottagers were having no luck in front of goal but needed to find some soon if they were to have any chance of staying in the Premier League.
In the end, it wasn’t enough for Parker and his side, who weren’t really able to test Pope or create many clear cut chances to score. The 2-0 result now means Fulham will be playing football in the second tier of English football next season and Burnley are now mathematically safe from the drop.