Is Norwich’s Great Escape From Relegation Possible?

Is Norwich’s Great Escape From Relegation Possible?

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11 Apr 2022
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Pierre Lees-Melou and Teemu Pukki give the bottom-placed side a crucial three points over Burnley, moving them seven points from safety in the Premier League table.

Everton won, Burnley lost, and it was a disastrous afternoon for Dyche, especially after a weekend in which Newcastle and Leeds also won all three games.

If Burnley are relegated, they will reflect on this game, particularly Maxwel Cornet’s miss when the goal’s net was begging to be rippled.

After 65 minutes, it would have been 1-1, giving Burnley the opportunity to get the win they needed. Instead, they were defeated at Carrow Road by goals from Pierre Lees-Melou and Teemu Pukki.

Norwich can maintain its optimism. Even though they won, they will need a miracle to survive, but Dean Smith’s guys did themselves proud.

Burnley’s opponents are well aware of what they can expect from them, mainly bruising, and Kenny McLean was hit by James Tarkowski just five seconds after the game began.

In this game, Norwich couldn’t afford to be polite. They had no choice but to give as much as they received. If they lose, their Premier League status is likely to be jeopardized.

They got off to a fantastic start, with good intent in front of goal. Burnley struggled to cope with Smith’s midfield diamond and front two, and the breakthrough came in the ninth minute when a Norwich corner was not effectively cleared.

The ball dropped to Lees-Melou, who hit the post with a strike from the edge of the box. It was deflected twice by Josh Brownhill and Jay Rodriguez, but Smith didn’t seem to mind.

Neither did the Norwich fans. They were buzzing with excitement. They’d only taken the lead seven times all season, so this was new terrain for them.

It might have been 2-0 after 16 minutes if Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope hadn’t stopped the energetic Pukki from finding the far corner with a long right leg.

Before the interval, Norwich marched into the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to two key blocks by Ben Gibson, who denied Ashley Westwood and then Matt Lowton.

Burnley have never come back from a halftime deficit in a Premier League away game. They’d been in similar predicament 64 times before, with 55 losses and nine draws.

When Lees-Melou viciously fouled Charlie Taylor to stop a counter-attack, the visitors demanded assistance from referee Michael Oliver. The goalscorer, who had already been cautioned, got away with the challenge but was now on his final warning. Shortly later, Smith made the correct substitution.

Cornet has scored crucial goals for Burnley, including the game-winning goal against Everton on Wednesday. In the 65th minute, he should have tied the game at 1-1, but he committed the kind of error that keeps footballers awake at night.

Dwight McNeil’s cross was superb after Sam Byram carelessly gave the ball to the Burnley substitute on the wing. At the back post, Cornet had an open goal, but he missed it. Heads were in hands as the ball soared wide for a goal kick.

Instead, the score was 2-0. When Mathias Normann’s quick pass found Pukki, who was being played onside by Taylor, the only player he had to beat was Pope. He buried the ball in the bottom corner, stabbing Burnley in the heart.

After the win over Everton in midweek, this appeared to be the ideal match for Dyche and his Burnley players. That was far from the case.

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