Ralph Hasenhüttl had warned of the insanity of judging a book by its cover, after admitting that his perception of Burnley had changed somewhat in recent years and that this match had provided moving proof of reason. A game between teams that finished the afternoon on the 16th and 18th was probably not a priority for too many neutrals, but they served up an entertaining dish, even if at times it was for the wrong reasons.
A lively game saw two fine goals from Maxwel Cornet, but the reality is that Burnley is still chasing his first Premier League win of the season, despite rallying to prevent the impressive Armando Broja from being the winner of the Southampton game for the second consecutive week.
Cornet gave Burnley the lead with a header from a delightful cross from Matt Lowton, but they couldn’t use it as a platform and the harsh truth is that no team of top flight has lost more points from winning positions than the 12 they have this season. “We are aware of the situation, I can assure you that,” Burnley manager Sean Dyche said. “We want to come back to these winning performances. I don’t think we’re that far away. We are still looking for this victory, but there are a lot of good signs.
Both teams were guilty of regressing after gaining the upper hand and in the first half Southampton passed Burnley after Cornet’s nice opening game, which bounced off the upright. By the time Tino Livramento equalized from a corner four minutes before the break, he and Mohamed Elyounoussi had already shaken the woodwork, Theo Walcott had pushed far and Nathan Redmond had managed to miss the simplest of opportunities.
“How did he miss that?” Asked a puzzled supporter from the upper level of the Itchen booth and on the sideline Hasenhüttl was also bewildered, covering his face with both hands. Broja pulled away from James Tarkowski and sent a perfect cross to the back post, but Redmond was left to shake his head after ranking a strong contender for the season failure, tapping two yards. Livramento – arguably Chelsea’s signing of the season for £ 5million – then looped a shot that was cannoned against the inside of a post before eventually finding a lane through, sending a downward header from a corner.
Burnley was faltering, forgetting how to defend in the process and five minutes into the break another stupid mistake saw Southampton take the lead. Tarkowski offered the ball to Ibrahima Diallo, who slipped to Broja to do the rest, piercing a shot into the far corner.
But just as Southampton looked confident, Burnley spoke of something out of thin air. Ashley Westwood’s pass bounced over Cornet’s left shoulder and, after fending off Jan Bednarek, the Ivorian made his decision early, hitting a shot in the corner.
“We had a moment where we were sleeping a little bit and they scored their second goal which slowed our momentum a bit,” said Hasenhüttl, who conceded that those first half chances have come back to bite. “There must be more results. Two home goals should be enough to win a game. I think it was a deserved result. It was an interesting game for the neutrals.
Not for the first time this season, Livramento was Southampton’s outstanding player. The 18-year-old’s gallant display was characterized by a raging first half halfway through, which led to former Southampton midfielder Jack Cork pulling his shirt off and taking a cardboard box. Broja, another player with ties to Chelsea, also made his mark before leaving with an ankle problem.
“We know that young players can have a chance at our club,” said Hasenhüttl. “They are both very young and very talented and they feel comfortable with this team. Much like Southampton, we want to work with these young boys and make them better. They may not stay with us long, but we will help them.