Watford 1 Burnley 2: Come-from-behind Clarets boost Euro hopes
Burnley incredibly scored twice in three second-half minutes to boost their hopes of European qualification with a dramatic 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Sam Vokes netted with his first touch off the bench before Jack Cork completed the stunning comeback in the 73rd minute to overturn what looked likely to be the winner from Roberto Pereyra.
Pereyra had put aside his first-half frustration in front of goal to guide the Hornets ahead in the 61st minute and inspire hope of bringing an end to a three-match winless Premier League run.
But it was the Clarets who were buoyant soon after, substitute Vokes and midfielder Cork both netting from close range to secure a fourth straight top-flight victory for the first time since November 1968.
Former Watford boss Sean Dyche earlier had Nick Pope to thank for a fine first-half display as club captain Tom Heaton, back in the matchday squad for the first time since September, watched from the bench.
And, although Watford found a way past World Cup hopeful Pope, Burnley rallied bravely to go six points clear of eighth-placed Leicester City, who lost 2-1 to Newcastle United.
Indeed, if Burnley hold onto seventh - and struggling Southampton do not win the FA Cup - they will have done enough to earn a spot in the Europa League qualifying round.
22 - Sam Vokes scored with his first touch against Watford just 22 seconds after coming on - the fastest sub goal in the Premier League this season. Electric.-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 7, 2018
Chris Wood entered the match on a run of four goals in three games and was on target again inside two minutes, only to have his header rightly chalked off for a marginal offside call.
Troy Deeney nodded past the far post at the other end before Pope kept out a pair of Pereyra drives, the winger initially dallying over a good opening on the first attempt.
Burnley could well have gone ahead midway through the half, but Ashley Barnes - a scorer in each of his last four appearances - completely missed Aaron Lennon's low cross and Ashley Westwood's follow-up was blocked.
And they were almost made to pay when Argentina international Pereyra skipped inside and curled a fine left-footed effort that forced the impressive Pope to acrobatically tip over.
Orestis Karnezis almost gifted the opener within two minutes of the restart when he dropped a high ball into Westwood's path, although the Greece goalkeeper recovered to blanket the shot.
England squad member Pope was then equal to Daryl Janmaat's side-footed effort as tentativeness continued to prove a hindrance at both ends.
That was until Pereyra eventually found a way past Pope, Will Hughes' blocked finish breaking perfectly for the 27-year-old to tuck home the game's opening goal.
Yet, 12 minutes later, they were behind. Vokes pounced on Adrian Mariappa's misguided header to poke home the equaliser just 22 seconds after replacing Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, before Cork completed the quickfire comeback by forcing in Westwood's header back across goal.
Javi Gracia threw on Andre Carrillo and Richarlison in an attempt to salvage the situation, but Burnley held firm and might have extended their advantage but for Karnezis' save from Wood.
That mattered little to the Clarets, though, as they banked a 13th victory of an excellent campaign to strengthen their grip on seventh.
Key Opta stats:
- This was Watford's first home league defeat under Javi Gracia, with Swansea City the last side to win at Vicarage Road back in December.
- Burnley have won seven away games in the Premier League this season; their most in a top-flight campaign since 1965-66 (9).
- The Clarets won a Premier League away game in which they conceded the first goal for the first time since April 2010 (4-1 at Hull), ending a run of 29 defeats and seven draws when shipping first on the road.
- Sam Vokes' leveller was scored with his first touch of the game and just 22 seconds after coming off the bench - the fastest goal scored by a substitute in the Premier League this season.