Burnley beat 10-man Brenthford to boost survival hope

Muniz is now Fulham's top scorer in the Premier League

Burnley boosted their slim hopes of Premier League survival with a nervy victory over 10-man Brentford at Turf Moor.

Jacob Bruun Larsen’s early penalty gave the hosts the perfect start after the video assistant referee (VAR) adjudged Sergio Reguilon to have committed a professional foul on Clarets winger Vitinho, resulting in a straight red card for the Tottenham loanee.

Dara O’Shea’s heavy backpass almost gifted Brentford an equaliser, but Arijanet Muric – making his Premier League debut in place of first-choice Clarets goalkeeper James Trafford – produced a fine clearance to stop the ball trickling over the line.

David Datro Fofana was guilty of one of the misses of the season shortly before the interval, somehow scuffing his shot wide after Lorenz Assignon had picked out the young Ivorian.

But Chelsea loanee Fofana made amends midway through the second period, taking Wilson Odobert’s pass in his stride and calmly beating Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken to double Burnley’s advantage.

Odobert spurned an excellent opportunity to make it 3-0, before Kristoffer Ajer’s late header gave Brentford hope.

The visitors thought they had salvaged an unlikely equaliser deep into added time when Shandon Baptiste’s cross looped over Muric and into the far corner, but the goal was ruled out for a foul by Ivan Toney on the Burnley keeper.

“This was big for us,” Burnley manager Vincent Kompany told BBC Match of the Day. “We can’t keep putting out performances and not get results.

“We started well. We didn’t wait for the game to happen and forced them to make a mistake early doors.

“Maybe if we sharpen our tools a little bit more we could have [scored] more goals, but if you’ve not put the result to bed you have to grind it out. We did that and we got the result.”

The Clarets’ second home win of the season means they are now eight points adrift of safety with nine matches left to play, while Brentford sit four points above the bottom three.

Fofana turns from villain to hero

Burnley have left themselves with a mountain to climb as the Premier League season enters its final stretch, but this win has the potential to breathe life into their survival bid.

Clarets fans had to wait more than five minutes for VAR to confirm Reguilon had fouled Vitinho, who had just pulled his leg back to shoot after collecting Josh Cullen’s lofted ball into the box.

But Bruun Larsen was not to be denied, the former Dortmund youngster keeping his composure to slam the ball beyond Flekken with 10 minutes on the clock.

Only Brentford have dropped more points from winning positions than Kompany’s team this season, and had it not been for Muric the Clarets could have found themselves on level terms heading into half-time.

The Kosovan managed to clear O’Shea’s wayward pass off the line before denying Yoane Wissa in a one-on-one as Brentford continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack.

That second stop spared Fofana’s blushes after a first half to forget for the 21-year-old striker, who somehow failed to hit the target from Assignon’s pass with half-time looming.

Moments later, Fofana delayed his shot after dispossessing Brentford goalkeeper Flekken inside the area, giving the Dutchman the opportunity to atone for his error and clear the ball out for a corner.

But the Ivorian turned from villain to hero in the second half, his composed finish giving the Clarets a two-goal cushion with under half an hour left to play.

Ajer’s header set up a nervous finish, and Burnley fans’ hearts were in their mouths when Baptiste’s looping cross nestled in the back of the net, but the goal was correctly disallowed.

Brentford getting dragged into trouble

A 14th defeat in 18 Premier League games – against a side who had only beaten struggling Sheffield United on home soil all season – will do little to allay Bees fans’ fears of getting dragged into a relegation battle.

Brentford were comfortable winners when these teams met at GTech Community Stadium back in October, but they had to play the vast majority of this contest with 10 men after Reguilon’s early dismissal.

The Bees had their chances, birthday boy Toney heading over the bar in the first half before Wissa was denied by a magnificent Muric save.

And Brentford boss Thomas Frank was adamant his side should have been awarded a penalty of their own in the second half for a foul by Fofana on Mathias Jorgensen – when Burnley were still 1-0 ahead.

“It was murder in the box,” Frank said. “How the ref and the VAR can’t see that is incredible.

“That’s after eight minutes in the second half – it would have changed the game. We have Ivan [Toney] and it would have been 1-1.”

Frank’s team deserve credit for pushing Burnley to the wire after going 2-0 down, Ajer’s goal coming moments after Brentford’s penalty appeals for Muric’s challenge on Toney were waved away by referee Darren Bond.

The Bees had the ball in the net again when Baptiste’s cross-shot looped into the far corner, but their celebrations were cut short by Bond.

Brentford have now lost five of their past six league games and face a tricky run of fixtures, with back-to-back home games against Manchester United and Brighton followed by a trip to Aston Villa.

Frank will hope his team can pick up enough points from those games to still be above the drop zone when they host Sheffield United on 13 April.

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