Belfast Telegraph

Europa League qualification no fluke, says Burnley boss Dyche

A top-seven finish in the Premier League is more-or-less assured for Dyche’s side.

Burnley’s European dream is virtually a reality following a goalless draw with Brighton and manager Sean Dyche insists his squad deserve their place in next season’s Europa League.

The Clarets are more-or-less assured of a top-seven finish as they have a six-point cushion over Everton with two games to go and have a far superior goal difference.

Burnley were last in a European competition over half a century ago and the achievement is all the more remarkable given they were only promoted back to the top flight in 2016.

“It’s a fantastic achievement if we get there,” Dyche said after the game.

“There’s a massive swing involved. We weren’t as good as we can be, a long way from it at times, but the habits were there, the will to play was there, we were just short of quality.

“It’s hard to sit here on a soft performance to question the players. Over the season they’ve been absolutely fantastic and they’ve earned the right.

“The points we’ve got on the table in the Premier League, you can’t cheat that.

“You can have a lucky spell but you can’t be lucky all season. It takes organisation, delivery of performance, the mentality to take on each game, and we’ve had that in abundance.”

Burnley came closest to scoring against Brighton during a frenzied first-half passage when goalkeeper Mat Ryan made two desperate saves from Ashley Barnes and Jack Cork, with the ball eventually breaking for Kevin Long to hit a post.

The ball then came back off the woodwork and appeared to strike Lewis Dunk on the arm, yet referee Roger East refrained from awarding the Clarets a first Premier League penalty in over a year.

“There is no point in me talking about penalties,” Dyche joked.

“Cartoon capers, someone just sneaks a club out on someone’s head, we might get one then, but they might not see it. Eventually we’ll get a penalty, you imagine.”

It was also a point towards Brighton’s objective of survival, although Southampton’s victory over Bournemouth actually closed the gap between Chris Hughton’s side and the bottom three to five points.

“When you’re coming to a team that has had the season that Burnley have had, how difficult they are to play against, the strengths that they have, then before the game you would have certainly settled for the point,” Hughton said.

“I thought we were the better side, we looked more like carving something out.

“Burnley have a way of playing which is very effective. For the large majority of the game I thought we dealt with that threat.

“(There is) probably a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t get the win. Out of the two teams, if there was one team that deserved a win more, I thought it was us. But we hope in the end it’s a good point.”

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