Newcastle moved up to 13th in the Premier League as they capitalised on Burnley’s defensive frailties to record their third successive victory.
A Federico Fernandez effort that deflected in off Clarets defender Ben Mee, and Ciaran Clark’s header from a Matt Ritchie cross, proved decisive for Rafael Benitez’s side.
Burnley had lost each of their last 23 top-flight matches in which they had conceded the first two goals.
And while Sam Vokes responded for the home side – connecting with Mee’s long ball to loop a header over goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from almost 18 yards – they were unable to force an equaliser.
In truth that would have been harsh on Newcastle who were superior for long periods and could have added to their tally through Matt Ritchie and substitute Joselu, who struck the post.
The result leaves Burnley 17th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.
Burnley’s defensive woe continues
While Burnley began the encounter having scored the same number of goals (12) as at this stage last term, their travails have emanated from the other end of the pitch.
Their success in finishing seventh in the Premier League in May was largely constructed on their solid defence – those foundations have crumbled in a start littered with a series of individual and collective errors.
Both of Newcastle’s first-half goals were symptomatic of those problems. Mee’s own-goal came after Clarets forward Chris Wood made a dreadful attempt to clear a corner under little pressure, and it was compounded when the defender diverted a shot past Joe Hart that appeared to be drifting wide.
Newcastle’s second was another gift, with Burnley initially failing to react at a corner and then allowing Ciaran Clark a free header from eight yards.
Clark’s effort delivered an unwanted 27th goal against Sean Dyche’s side, who reached the 31 March during the 2017-18 season before conceding that number.
And things might have been worse for the hosts but Magpies wing-back Matt Ritchie somehow contrived to miss from two yards out in the second period after another defensive error.
Burnley also appear to be suffering from another problem, with former England defender Danny Mills indentifying the predictable nature of their attacking play as a further area of concern.
“I’m a massive fan of Sean Dyche, but you can’t keep playing like that – pumping long balls up to two big lads up front,” Mills told BBC Radio 5 live.
“They need something different. They’ll score the odd goal like that but not two or three and then you’re not going to dominate sides, so you’ll always be under pressure. They need to change the way they play.”
Newcastle finding their feet
After an abject start, taking three points from a possible 30 in a winless ten-game run, Benitez’s team have at last found their feet.
Newcastle had lost each of their last 10 Premier League games played on a Monday night before this trip to Lancashire.
But if the omens were not in their favour, their performance on Monday night was suggestive of a team growing in confidence.
That was buoyed by gaining a two-goal advantage within 25 minutes and Benitez’s tactics, which included the deployment of a trio of central midfielders, enabled them to control the game.
There were also solid performances from Fernandez and Fabian Schar at the heart of a reinforced rearguard.
The Argentina and Switzerland defenders both arrived in a summer when a lack of investment in the transfer market led to supporter protests.
But unity appears to have temporarily been restored and both played their part in this success, making 10 clearances each, alongside Clark, who made 11.
Man of the match – Ciaran Clark (Newcastle)
‘Every game is like a final for us’ – what they said
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, talking to BBC Sport: “Every game for us is like a final. Winning is massive because it gives us more confidence. There is still a long race ahead but we are doing well and hopefully we can continue that.
“We needed to win and to perform well. The players did it and were amazing in terms of effort, organisation and team spirit.
“We were working in the week trying to manage Burnley’s two big centre-forwards and the players did really well.
“The main thing for us is to make sure we can get something out of these games. We have confidence now and the players will continue pushing and working hard.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche, speaking to BBC Sport: “I’m frustrated that the margins that are so important in these games have gone against us.
“The first goal is frustrating because it is unlucky, going in off a deflection, and the second goal is a soft goal. From then on, in the main, we were very good, we deserved the goal and got back into it.
“The second half, after a slow start, we provided enough to get an equaliser. We created chances but now we have to take them and then lock the door. There were better signs but we need results, we know that.”
Burnley’s bleak home form – the stats
- Burnley have won just one of their last nine Premier League home games (D2 L6).
- Newcastle enjoyed their first win in their last 11 Premier League games played on a Monday night.
- 54.5% of Newcastle’s Premier League goals this season have been headers (6/11), a league-high proportion.
- Newcastle United’s opener against Burnley on 3 minutes 35 seconds was their earliest away Premier League goal since Yohan Cabaye scored against Sunderland in October 2012 (2:10).
- Since the start of 2016-17, only Lewis Dunk (4) has scored more own-goals in the Premier League than Burnley’s Ben Mee (3, level with Ryan Shawcross).
- Newcastle’s Ciaran Clark has bagged two goals in his last four Premier League appearances, as many as he managed in his previous 25.
- Matt Ritchie has registered 14 league assists for Newcastle United since joining the Magpies ahead of 2016-17, more than any other player for the club.
- Burnley’s Sam Vokes’ goal was scored from 17.65 yards out, the furthest distance for a headed Premier League goal since Jamie Vardy for Leicester against Sunderland in August 2015 (18.03).
Burnley travel to Crystal Palace in their next Premier League match on Saturday, 1 December (15:00 GMT).
Newcastle also return to league action on Saturday, 1 December when they host West Ham (15:00 GMT).