13 Jan Bakary Sako strike helps Eagles soar towards top 10
Crystal Palace took a further step towards Premier League survival with a 1-0 victory over Burnley which extended the visitors’ winless run to seven games.
The Clarets climbed to fourth with victory over Stoke last month but have struggled to impress since, and came up short again against a Palace side missing eight first-team regulars.
A second goal in two games from Bakary Sako was enough to secure the three points for the Eagles that would take the hosts up to 12th, and into serious contention for a top-10 finish having looked like near-certainties for relegation a few weeks ago.
Sako had retained his place after impressing with a fine goal in Monday’s FA Cup third-round defeat at Brighton and quickly demonstrated the confidence with which he is playing with an early run into the Burnley penalty area. However, he wasted his finest chance to shoot and was then dispossessed by a well-timed sliding tackle from James Tarkowski, with the appeals for a penalty rightly waved away.
From a similar position in the 21st minute he gave Palace the lead. Wilfried Zaha’s aimless pass was flicked on by Christian Benteke to Sako on the left wing and he eased into the area before shooting inside the far right post via Nick Pope’s foot.
The home side’s advantage was almost immediately doubled when, after indecision from Pope and Charlie Taylor, Zaha collected the loose ball and hooked over the goalkeeper towards the open goal. Ben Mee slid in to beat James McArthur to the loose ball and cleared off the line.
Benteke went close when heading narrowly over the crossbar from Luka Milivojevic’s left-wing corner.
At the other end Tarkowski headed down towards Ashley Barnes, whose left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area was tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Benteke had a chance and Sako went closer still on the stroke of half-time. Timothy Fosu-Mensah raced down the right and crossed towards the forward who volleyed just off-target.
Sam Vokes’ near-post header hit the side-netting for Burnley in the second period from Steven Defour’s right-wing cross, before Benteke headed high and wide when similarly well placed after Sako had created space to chip to him from the left wing.
Tempers flared in the 84th minute when Taylor fouled Zaha and the Palace man collided with one of the pitch-side television cameras and cameramen, but calm was restored and Taylor was booked.