Burnley took advantage of some woeful defending before Matt Lowton scored a superb volley as they brushed aside a limp Crystal Palace to move further clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
The Clarets came into the game as the division’s lowest scorers, but quickly set about changing that in the opening 10 minutes, thanks in large part to the hospitality of the home side.
A lack of communication at the back and a fluffed attempted clearance from Scott Dann allowed Johann Berg Gudmundsson to turn and fire in the opener before Jay Rodriguez headed the second directly from a corner.
It provided an early mountain to climb for a Palace side without their injured top-scorer and talisman Wilfried Zaha.
Despite naming a team with Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi, Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze all starting and so seemingly possessing considerable attacking potential, the hosts failed to even leave base camp.
Their challenge was all but ended shortly after the break by the game’s highlight, with Lowton driving past two challenges before exchanging passes with Rodriguez and lashing a volley across home keeper Vicente Guaita and into the far corner of the net.
Having failed to record a league win until the ninth game of the season (also over Palace), Sean Dyche’s side are now on the up, with the 11-point gap between themselves and the bottom three not insurmountable but sizeable enough for comfort.
The only negative for Burnley was the loss of two defenders to injury late in the game.
Captain Ben Mee was carried off on a stretcher after a clash with Ayew, with Erik Pieters seemingly pulling a groin muscle soon after. Both will now be a doubt for important upcoming fixtures with Fulham and West Brom.
Palace are three points better off than the Clarets, with 29 on the board. They’re unlikely to go down, but will either need a fit again Zaha soon or a serviceable plan B without him to avoid a long, miserable trudge through the second half of this campaign.
Team ethic triumphs for Burnley
It is unfair to label Palace a one-man team, but they are arguably as close as a current Premier League side gets to satisfying the brief, such is their woeful form without Zaha.
They offered little in the absence of their top-scorer and talisman at Leeds on Monday and were once again uninspiring in attack, meaning they have now lost 18 of the last 20 games they have played without the forward, failing to score in 16 of those.
Hodgson’s attempted solution to the problem against Burnley was to promote Benteke and Batshuayi from the bench and pair them attack, with Ayew and Eze deployed as chief creators on the wings in a 4-4-2 that matched their opponents’ formation.
Neither striker lasted the 90 minutes, with Batshuayi failing to provide a single effort at goal, while replacements Jean-Philippe Mateta and Andros Townsend similarly underwhelming.
There were periods of home pressure during the match, but Nick Pope had no serious saves to make.
Burnley are the polar opposite of a one-man team, but what they lack in high-profile superstars, they make up for with discipline, tactical acumen and efficiency.
The Clarets have struggled for goals this campaign, with their three on Saturday taking them to just 17 for the season in 23 games, but they are a nightmare to try and break down when they have their noses in front, let alone when they are gifted an early two-goal advantage.
As impressive as their finishing was in the opening 10 minutes, their work-rate and anticipation to snuff out any threat from an admittedly disjointed home attack was equally laudable.
The stand-out moment in the game, though, was undoubtedly Lowton’s solo goal, which initially showcased his physical prowess and determination and then his technique, as he planted Rodrigiez’s lofted ball past Guaita.
It was his first Premier League goal since April 2013, ending a run of 158 games, and meant his side had scored as many goals in one afternoon as they had in their previous 10 away league games combined.
The cost of the win could well be the absence of the ever-reliable Mee for future matches, although encouragingly the club captain was able to walk to the dressing room unaided after he had been taken off on a stretcher.
‘A performance we can’t, in any way, be happy with’
Burnley boss Sean Dyche, speaking to BBC Sport: “I thought there was a really good energy to the performance, a real good tempo and quality as well.
“Today I thought was a very good performance, we found all kinds of different chances. The tempo was there from early on. In the second half we started well and got a fantastic goal from Matt Lowton and really controlled it out from that.
“We take things one game at a time, as we did today.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: “It was pretty obvious that it was a performance we can’t be in anyway happy with or proud of. We were beaten by the better team.
“They dealt with our attacks quite easily and we found it difficult to deal with their attacks.
“I am afraid it one of those defeats that you have to take on the chin but there won’t be many of us going home thinking we did the best job we could do.”
Age is just a number
- Burnley (29y 349d) became the first opponent to name a starting XI with an older average age than Crystal Palace (29y 148d) in a Premier League game against the Eagles this season.
- Burnley have won four of their last six Premier League games in London (L2), more than they’d won in the first 30 such games in the competition (W3 D4 L23).
- Only Leeds (8) have conceded more goals from corners in the Premier League this season than Crystal Palace (7).
- Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson has scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career (108th game), after going 21 matches in a row without scoring before this run.
- Burnley’s Jay Rodriguez has scored five league goals against Crystal Palace, only versus Nottingham Forest (6) has he bagged more in his career.
- Burnley defender Matt Lowton scored his first Premier League goal since April 2013 versus Stoke City – seven years and 313 days ago.
- 3van Aanholt
- 9J Ayew
- 20BentekeSubstituted forMatetaat 76′minutes
- 23BatshuayiSubstituted forTownsendat 62′minutes
- 6MeeSubstituted forLongat 84′minutes
- 23PietersSubstituted forBardsleyat 87′minutes
- 7GudmundssonSubstituted forBradyat 72′minutes
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Burnley 3.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Burnley 3.
Attempt missed. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Jean-Philippe Mateta (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cheikhou Kouyaté with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Andros Townsend.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.
Attempt blocked. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by James Tarkowski.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Dwight McNeil.
Substitution, Burnley. Phil Bardsley replaces Erik Pieters because of an injury.
Offside, Crystal Palace. Patrick van Aanholt tries a through ball, but Jean-Philippe Mateta is caught offside.
Substitution, Burnley. Kevin Long replaces Ben Mee because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is just a bit too high. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne with a cross.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jean-Philippe Mateta replaces Christian Benteke.
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ben Mee (Burnley).
Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).
Ashley Barnes (Burnley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Burnley. Robbie Brady replaces Jóhann Gudmundsson.
Offside, Burnley. Ashley Westwood tries a through ball, but Ashley Barnes is caught offside.