Friday 6 December 2019

Burnley still waiting for a first win after goalless stalemate with Sunderland

Burnley's Lukas Jutkiewicz (right) holds off Sunderland's Wes Brown during the Barclays Premier League match at Turf Moor
Burnley's Lukas Jutkiewicz (right) holds off Sunderland's Wes Brown during the Barclays Premier League match at Turf Moor

Rory Dollard

Ashley Barnes came within a whisker of claiming Burnley's first victory of the season against Sunderland, only to see a late effort deflected against the crossbar.

The substitute saw his shot balloon off the boot of Lee Cattermole in the 87th minute, leaving Vito Mannone beaten, but the ball rattled back off the woodwork to leave the game goalless and both sides winless in the Barclays Premier League.

The game ended with the hosts camped in the Sunderland box during five minutes of injury time but, late drama aside, it was a forgettable outing at Turf Moor.

Few will be as keen to erase it as Clarets striker Marvin Sordell, deputising for the injured Danny Ings, as he fluffed a fine chance in just the fifth minute.

Although the away side, Sunderland arguably came into the match with greater hope of registering a first victory of the campaign.

Yet they were badly off the pace for long stretches, a series of Seb Larsson crosses keeping them in the conversation in the first half and Emanuele Giaccherini providing bursts of life that threatened to make the difference yet never did.

There were notable negatives for Gus Poyet's side too, Adam Johnson enduring one of his wasteful days and Connor Wickham still looking a shadow of the striker that fired the Black Cats to safety at the end of last season.

Burnley had come out of the traps with real intent, George Boyd immediately causing problems with a couple of crosses from the left and Kieran Trippier ending an impressive surge upfield with a less successful shot on goal.

They should have taken the lead early but Sordell froze when the chance arose.

Cattermole's poorly directed back header played Lukas Jutkiewicz in behind and his square ball was begging to be driven home. Instead Sordell fluffed his connection completely, allowing Patrick van Aanholt to clear.

That miss appeared to sap the home side's momentum, while Sunderland were struggling to get out of first gear.

Giaccherini managed to create something when he cut in and shot from 20 yards, but Tom Heaton was left with a simple save.

The standard of shooting scarcely improved at the other end, David Jones firing straight at Mannone following neat hold-up play from Boyd.

The best chance of a much-needed goal seemed to come from Larsson, with his hanging crosses responsible for most of Sunderland's forward pressure.

One was deftly taken down by Wes Brown, only for Ben Mee and Jason Shackell to scramble clear, while Wickham headed another into the six-yard box where Jack Rodwell's finishing touch lacked power.

Burnley were actually showing greater composure on the ball but struggled to make any meaningful progress in the final third, and the break arrived with Mannone having fielded only simple attempts.

The Black Cats had greater energy after the interval.

First Rodwell's driven effort was gathered at the second attempt by Heaton, before a well-worked break ended with Giaccherini in space on the left-hand side of the box.

He drilled the ball across goal and Rodwell was waiting to tap home from point-blank range had Shackell not read the danger correctly and beaten him to it.

Shortly after the hour-mark Sordell's audition as Ings' stand-in was ended as Barnes was summoned from the bench.

Sunderland boss Poyet also went to his replacements, Jordi Gomez and Jozy Altidore on for Larsson and Johnson, and the game began to open up.

But it was Burnley who began to force the issue, an overlapping Scott Arfield almost surprising Mannone at his near post and Jutkiewicz appealing ambitiously for a penalty when challenged by the slight Giaccherini.

Jutkiewicz had a chance to settle things with 13 minutes left, reacting quickest to a Jones pass that briefly outwitted everyone, and getting a strong shot away. But Mannone was equal to it and palmed it clear.

Burnley so nearly gathered the three points when Jutkiewicz and Arfield combined to give Barnes his chance, but despite the helpful touch off Cattermole nothing would end the stalemate.

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