Burnley thump Wolves 4 – 0. Sean Dyche’s side are now nine points clear of Fulham and the relegation zone with 15 to play for and the long-serving manager can surely start planning for a sixth consecutive season in the top flight.
An awful display from the hosts was ruthlessly exposed by the Clarets, who produced an excellent performance to end a run of three straight defeats in style. Burnley took a huge step towards retaining their Premier League status as a first-half Chris Wood hat-trick saw them thrash a lifeless Wolves at Molineux.
Wood was superb throughout but was also gifted his chances by a Wolves display that was worryingly half-hearted and reeked of the end of a season marooned in mid-table.
Strike partner Matej Vydra saw his effort ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside but there was still time for a fourth as Ashley Westwood thumped in from the edge of the area. Dyche was at pains in the build-up to this match to once again point out the lack of money he has had to reinforce his squad – and that staying in the Premier League for another season would be no mean feat.
He looks set to achieve that goal after his settled group delivered one of their most accomplished away performances in recent years. From the first minute, the Clarets were far more aggressive than Wolves, pushing the hosts back, and it was not long before Wood had them ahead.
Centre-back Willy Boly had already got away with one error when he inexcusably allowed a straight ball over his head, Wood twisted England defender Conor Coady inside out and arrowed a low shot across goal and in.
Six minutes later Wolves winger Adama Traore played a sloppy pass on the edge of his own area, Dwight McNeil anticipated the error and ran through to square the ball and give Wood a tap-in in the middle.
Another excellent cross from the left was volleyed over by Vydra as Burnley piled on the pressure, and the third goal did come before the break when Wood was left free to powerfully head in McNeil’s inswinging corner.
The Clarets have dropped 13 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season but that never looked likely and Vydra – who rounded Rui Patricio expertly to score but was just offside – and Matt Lowton were close to extending the lead before Westwood rounded things off.
Wood was provider this time, teeing up the former Aston Villa midfielder to hammer in from 20 yards. “I’ve been sleeping all right,”said Dyche. “I don’t tend to worry too much. It’s a season’s work.
“It’s how you end up in the season and our focus has to be the next game. We go into the next one and work really hard to try and get more points on the board.”
Worrying signs for woeful Wolves
It might be a bit obvious to suggest that Wolves, in no danger of either relegation or competing for a European place, looked like ideal opposition for Dyche’s hungry visitors. It is also true.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were awful throughout – second to every header and tackle, slack at the back and impotent in attack.
After two excellent seasons that both produced seventh-placed finishes Wolves have hit a wall this season. The losses to injury and rivals of Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty have been seismic, with little sign yet that their replacements are up to the task.
That trio, after all, scored 28 Premier League goals last season. The whole team has mustered 32 so far this term. They never looked like troubling Nick Pope and will have to serve up a much better showing against local rivals West Brom next Monday night. “So many things went wrong. Many, many things,” Nuno said.
“There are not many explanations for such a bad performance. We defended badly, very bad. We allowed Burnley to get into the game, we were not practical, we lost second balls and we were always under pressure and never comfortable.”
Former England midfielder Danny Murphy was damning in his post-match appraisal on BBC One. “That was 90 minutes of bang average football from Wolves,” he said. “Normally you get it for 30 minutes, maybe a half where you’re off it. But in the second half there was no reaction. Show some passion, show some pride.”
Best since 1965 – the stats
- Burnley completed their first top-flight double over Wolves since the 1956-57 campaign, although the Clarets (7th) finished below Wolves (6th) in the table that season.
- Burnley registered their second away win by a margin of three or more goals in the Premier League this season (also 3-0 Crystal Palace in February) – the first time they’ve recorded two such away victories in a single top-flight campaign since 1965-66.
- Wolves’ loss was their heaviest home Premier League defeat since March 2012, when they lost 5-0 to Manchester United.
- Burnley registered their biggest away win in the English top-flight since a 4-0 victory over Sunderland in November 1965.
- 63% of Dwight McNeil’s Premier League assists have been for Chris Wood goals (10/16); of all players with at least 15 assists in the competition, McNeil has the highest percentage for one team-mate.
- Chris Wood became just the third player to score an away first-half Premier League hat-trick after Chris Sutton for Blackburn vs Aston Villa in August 1997 and Michael Owen for Liverpool vs Newcastle in August 1998.
Wolves have the chance to put things right and push rivals West Brom closer to the drop when they meet on Monday 3 May, while Burnley host West Ham on the same evening.