Burnley maintain European pursuit by hitting back to see off Watford
Sam Vokes and Jack Cork gave Burnley a fourth straight win.
Burnley continued their pursuit of European football as two goals in three second-half minutes gave them a 2-1 Premier League win at Watford.
The Clarets’ hopes of finishing in sixth place looked like faltering at Vicarage Road after Roberto Pereyra put the Hornets in front on the hour mark, but quickfire replies from Sam Vokes – seconds after coming off the bench – and Jack Cork saw Sean Dyche’s men close the gap on Arsenal to two points.
It was also their fourth successive top-flight win, the first time they have achieved such a feat since 1968, and a seventh away success of what has been a memorable campaign.
It is a different story for Watford, who were the better team until Vokes’ equaliser, as they lost for a third time in four matches, and though still nine points above the relegation zone they should not encounter any late-season drama.
Burnley started the game like a team in form and Chris Wood thought he had given them the perfect start but his header in the second minute was ruled out for offside, while Ashley Barnes headed over soon after.
Dyche had kept faith with Nick Pope despite Tom Heaton’s return from a lengthy injury lay-off and, as the hosts got a foothold in the game, it proved to be a wise selection as the goalkeeper showed exactly why he was called up for England last month.
He made a fine low save when he got down well to keep out Pereyra’s effort in the 15th minute and his stop from the same player 15 minutes later was even better.
Watford’s Argentinian winger burst in from the right and from 16 yards out sent a curling effort that was heading for the top corner until Pope brilliantly tipped it over the crossbar.
Pereyra versus Pope was becoming the battle of the match and the Watford man finally got the upper hand on the hour mark.
After the Hornets recycled a free-kick and the ball fell to Pereyra, who this time gave the Burnley goalkeeper no chance as he drilled home low from 10 yards.
The Clarets turned to Vokes from the bench in the 70th minute and the Wales international’s arrival had an immediate impact as he levelled barely 20 seconds after coming on.
He poked home a loose ball from a free-kick, ending a Premier League goal drought that went back to November.
It also gave the visitors some momentum and three minutes later they were ahead.
Watford again failed to deal with a set-piece and Cork was on hand to head home Kevin Long’s header back across goal, with technology confirming the ball had crossed the line before Orestis Karnezis clawed it away.
That two-goal blast knocked the wind out of Watford’s sails and they rarely looked like finding an equaliser, with substitute Stefano Okaka’s off-target shot their only moment of note as Dyche celebrated victory at his former club.