O'Neil frustrated with Wolves owners: We needed help in January


Burnley’s unlikely survival bid stalled as they were held 1-1 by Wolves which leaves them six points from safety with games running out.

After a run of three games unbeaten, hope has emerged of Burnley being able to preserve their Premier League status and things looked even better when Jacob Bruun Larsen fired them in front on 37 minutes.

But Burnley’s weaknesses at defending set-pieces came back to bite them as Rayan Ait-Nouri rose to head home a Pablo Sarabia free-kick on the stroke of half-time. It was their 16th goal conceded from a set-piece this season – only Nottingham Forest have shipped more.

With Forest winning against Fulham, the gap between them and Burnley increased to six points.

Wolves, who had Pedro Neto, Hwang Hee-Chan and Matheus Cunha missing from the start, played like a point was a good result – something echoed by a frustrated Gary O’Neil.

He told Sky Sports: “It’s hard to win games in the Premier League with a full squad and we’ve got five players missing with a small squad, so credit to the players. We’ve got 42 points which surpasses last year’s total with all the restrictions placed on the playing squad finically by the club. To have achieved a better points tally than last season’s is a fantastic achievement.

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Wolves boss Gary O’Neil says their draw against Burnley is a fair result and is happy to have taken a point away from home

“I’m disappointed we’re not able to push at this moment. We flagged to the club, warned them we were overloading the players because it was such a small group. We warned them if we lost a few attacking players it would make a big difference. We flagged the situation at the time but the club weren’t in a position to act on it or help us.

“Then two weeks after the window closes we are without any strikers, leaving us with young lads working their socks off and senior players having to play every minute of every game. It’s a huge effort. Do I deserve credit? Of course. But the guys to get to 42 points with the difficulties we’ve had to deal with is a bigger achievement than what most would recognise.”

Player ratings

Burnley: Muric (7), Taylor (6), O’Shea (6), Esteve (6), Vitinho (7), Cullen (6), Berge (7), Bruun Larsen (7), Odobert (7), Fofana (6), Foster (7)

Subs used: Benson (6), Rodriguez (6)

Wolves: Sa (8), Semedo (7), Kilman (7), Toti (6), H.Bueno (6), Doherty (6), Gomes (7), Lemima (7), Sarabia (7), Ait-Nouri (7), Chiwome (6)

Subs used: Cunha (6), S.Bueno (6), Traore (6)

Player of the match: Jose Sa

A missed opportunity for Burnley in great escape mission…

Burnley came out with a confident swagger but lacked a cutting edge. As Burnley fans in one block of the Jimmy McIlroy stand behind Aro Muric’s goal were being evacuated due to a strip of metal left hanging from the roof, Joao Gomes headed just wide of the target and towards the newly-emptied seats.

Lyle Foster then slipped the ball for Vitinho to run at goal but his shot was too close to Jose Sa.

Burnley did beat Sa with their next attack. The goalkeeper could only watch as Bruun Larsen, on loan from Hoffenheim, met Dara O’Shea’s ball from deep on the volley to sweep it into the far corner.

The momentum was with the home side but they couldn’t get into half-time with the lead. A very soft free-kick was awarded against O’Shea but Burnley then failed to properly defend the set-piece as Sarabia’s cross was headed in by Ait-Nouri, who has just about stayed onside.

Ait-Nouri should have scored a second early in the second half but Arijanet Muric stood firm to block the Algerian’s strike.

The goalkeepers were becoming the busiest players on the pitch as Sa had to be very alert to swat away another Bruun Larsen effort following some superb wing play by Vitinho.

Matheus Cunha came off the bench to make his first Wolves appearance since mid-February following a hamstring injury. But you sensed Gary O’Neil was happy with his side in the final stages, with Wolves defending deep and resolutely.

And, Burnley ran out ideas. They are also running out of games.

O’Neil: We’ll take a point

Wolves boss O’Neil said: “It was a fair result. They had the better of the first half and we had better chances in the second half – Rayan Ait-Nouri’s chance is a golden one. It’s not often you get such a chance with no-one in the way but the goalkeeper. He’s had a couple of chances like that now – he had one at Villa.

“It was a good away performance where we had to fight and we’ll take a point.

“We’re very short of attacking players so finishing teams off is tricky at the moment. We had some really dangerous moments that we didn’t turn into shots.”

Kompany: Don’t get me started on referees

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Burnley boss Vincent Kompany voices his frustration over the free-kick given as Rayan Aït-Nouri’s ‘falls to the floor’ which leads to Wolves’ equaliser

A day after Vincent Kompany said refereeing standards in the Premier League this season have “not been good enough”, the Belgian disputed Thomas Bramall’s decision to award Wolves the free-kick from which Ait-Nouri cancelled out Bruun Larsen’s goal deep into first-half stoppage time.

Ait-Nouri went down under a challenge from Dara O’Shea, but Kompany said there had been no contact between the two.

“Don’t get me on referees again!” Kompany said.

“But if we have to, of course, it was an issue. If you do a pirouette and you fall on your own, absolutely no contact made, then it’s just not a foul, I think we can all agree on this.

“But then as well the referee is in the best position ever, a really good position, he sees it, I can see it from three times as far as he is and for some reason there’s a decision made out of nothing.

“Then I look at my own team, and how we defend the set-play, that’s always the case, but yes, it’s a repeat and it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Opta stats: Ait-Nouri’s goal rush

  • Burnley are now unbeaten in four Premier League games (W1 D3), after losing four in a row before that. They have picked up six points in their last four fixtures, as many as they accrued in the 12 before that.
  • Burnley have enjoyed just two wins in their last 18 Premier League home games (D3 L13), keeping just one clean sheet in that run.
  • Aït-Nouri has netted two goals in his last three Premier League appearances for Wolves, as many as he managed in his previous 87 games in the competition.

What’s next?

Burnley are back in action on Saturday, taking on Everton in the Premier League; kick-off 3pm.

Wolves also play on Saturday, hosting West Ham in the Premier League; kick-off 3pm.



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