Burnley kept up their push for Europe and further plunged Bournemouth into relegation trouble with a win that had a pivotal video assistant referee decision at its centre.
With the home side ahead through Matej Vydra’s second goal in two games, Bournemouth broke the length of the field for Callum Wilson to set up namesake Harry for what they thought was an equaliser.
But VAR judged that Adam Smith had used his upper arm to control and clear a Burnley cross in his own area right at the start of the move – meaning the goal was disallowed and the home side were awarded a penalty at the other end.
Jay Rodriguez scored the resulting spot-kick to give the Clarets a grip on the game they did not relinquish.
Dwight McNeil hit the inside of the post with one effort, but found the net with a subsequent shot to seal the victory late on.
Incensed by the big penalty call, the Cherries had further causes for grievance, not least of all an earlier goal ruled out by VAR.
With the game at 0-0, Joshua King struck from a corner but saw the goal disallowed after a video check because of a handball by Philip Billing.
The visitors also found Nick Pope in inspired form; the home goalkeeper produced fine saves to deny both Wilsons.
The defeat is another costly one for Eddie Howe’s side, who remain 16th in the table, two points above the bottom three but having left the door open for the two teams below to overtake them.
Burnley are now up to eighth – a position that could very well result in a Europa League spot should Manchester City’s ban from Champions League football be upheld.
Clarets continue upward trajectory
Burnley’s recent turnaround in form has been stunning.
Six weeks ago, they were well beaten at Chelsea, conceding three unanswered goals and dropping to their lowest point of the campaign in terms of form and league position.
But as Dyche and his side have repeatedly shown, they are most dangerous with their backs to the wall and a point to prove.
A haul of 13 points from the past available 15 has certainly done the trick and now, instead of worrying about the prospect of trips to Reading and Hull next season, they are dreaming again of visits to Istanbul and Athens.
Putting aside VAR for now, it was in many ways a typical Clarets display – full of running, crammed with commitment, but with that bit of decisive class when it matters.
This class was provided by Vydra, who followed up his scoring appearance off the bench at Southampton with an excellent all-round display.
His movement caused the away side no end of trouble as he continually found space for himself to run into or have an effort at goal.
Three of those efforts failed to find the net – two of them saved by Aaron Ramsdale, the other he put past the far post on the slide.
But the finish he did pull off was brilliant – a dinked shot over the Cherries keeper after he had sold the backtracking defenders with an expert dummy to cut inside in the box.
It is some comeback for a player who was one of the top flight’s forgotten men. A few weeks ago, the Burnley fans weren’t batting an eyelid when his manager was unable to find a spot for him on the bench. Here they stood, applauded and chanted his name.
The result was already a formality when McNeil struck his superb effort from the edge of the box past Ramsdale.
VAR kicks Bournemouth when they are down
It never rains, it only pours.
That must be how Bournemouth feel right now – such can be the reality of life at the bottom of the Premier League.
The better side for large chunks of this game, despite the absence of Nathan Ake and Jefferson Lerma, and having twice put the ball past Pope, they somehow left Turf Moor with nothing.
They could have been 2-0 up inside the first five minutes but for a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Phil Bardsley on King and a smart save by the boot of Pope to parry Callum Wilson’s effort.
The home goalkeeper would also push away a Jack Stacey volley at the back post and a Harry Wilson header – efforts the away side should have scored.
But it will be the two VAR decisions that will overshadow all else when they come to reflect, not because of the legitimacy of the two handballs or the accuracy of the technology in the decision-making, but the misfortune it represents.
Both of the goals they scored – albeit different in nature – were ruled out for the a similar reason, but the second was far more costly than the first and came with an added sting in the tail.
Smith’s contact with the ball provoked cries of ‘handball’ from the home supporters, who were then incandescent when the visitors charged the length of the field to score.
The away fans’ delight and the home support’s anger were reversed as VAR stepped in, leaving the Cherries to bemoan not only their luck but also, when the dust settled, their own profligacy.
They can protest the decisions made by the technology if they wish, but they had enough chances to take the fate of the game into their own hands.
Man of the match – Matej Vydra (Burnley)
Cherries’ away-day blues continue – the stats
- Bournemouth have lost eight of their past nine away games in the Premier League, failing to score in four of their past five.
- Burnley have won four consecutive Premier League games against an opponent for only the second time, also doing so against Hull City between 2009 and 2015.
- Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe – a former Burnley boss – has lost six of his 10 matches against the Clarets as a manager (W2 D2 L6), including the past four.
- Burnley have won 37 points from 27 games this season – their highest points tally at this stage of a Premier League campaign.
- Jay Rodriguez has scored five league goals against Bournemouth – only against Nottingham Forest (six) has the Burnley forward netted more in his English league career.
- Burnley’s Dwight McNeil (20 years, 92 days) is the youngest player to reach 10 Premier League assists since Raheem Sterling (19 years, 335 days) in November 2014. In fact, McNeil has both scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time in his career.
- Burnley’s Matej Vydra has scored in consecutive league games for the first time since February 2018, with Derby in the Championship.
‘First disallowed goal dictates rest of game’ – what they said
Burnley manager Sean Dyche, speaking to Match of the Day: “It was a strange kind of game. You saw the momentum change with us in the second half because the wind was that powerful. I know you’re going to ask me about some interesting moments, but I felt we had good control after that.
“I couldn’t see [the Billing handball] from where I was. The players reacted, which isn’t always a sign but it can be. It’s a tough call. When it leads to a goal and it’s an arm, it has to be given.”
On Bournemouth’s second disallowed goal: “It’s a penalty for me. His arm comes out into an unnatural position. That one I think was right.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, speaking to Match of the Day: “It’s very difficult. I’ve got to be careful what I say. The first decision dictates the rest of the game. For me it’s a clear goal. I think it’s come off Phil [Billing]’s shoulder, and without that goal I don’t think VAR gets involved in the second.
“After that I think we were psychologically spent. It was hard for us to get back in the game, but I thought we did very well before that.
“I’ve seen loads of handballs this year and very rarely has one been given in your own box. They’ve been very careful in terms of decisions. Adam [Smith] says it hit him on the shoulder and I have to trust what he says.
“I’ve always been clear on VAR. I like the offsides as it’s black and white, right and wrong. But I’ve always maintained the referee should make the final decision on the pitch.”
Burnley travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle on Saturday, 29 February (kick-off 15:00 GMT), while Bournemouth welcome fourth-placed Chelsea to the Vitality Stadium at the same time.