By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Burnley 0
Albion’s Spanish contingent were instrumental as the Seagulls scored a vital victory over Burnley at the Amex.
Some of the football played by Gus Poyet’s men was quite breathtaking and at times it could be described as Premier League class.
A combination of Andrea Orlandi, Vicente Rodriguez, Bruno Saltor and David Lopez tore Burnley apart for spells with Wayne Bridge also making a valuable contribution.
It could have been a different story had Kuszczak not reacted to palm Junior Stanislas’s wayward cross over the bar in the first ten minutes.
Soon after, Albion began to find their feet. A move started by Vicente saw Orlandi drill a ball across the box but it evaded everyone in it.
Then Vicente appeared to beat at least five Burnley players with one turn and was crudely hacked down by Chris McCann.
In another attack Albion’s midfield genius swept the ball out to Bridge. He sprinted past the full back, whipped in a cross which Orlandi flicked behind for David Lopez to steady himself and steer a crisp volley past Lee Grant putting Albion in front.
Not long after it was almost the same combination. This time Orlandi crossed into the six-yard box but Vicente, with a diving header, couldn’t quite connect.
At the other end Kuszczak made a stunning save from a close-range header from Jason Shackell. The ball seemed destined for the bottom corner but the big Pole got down to it and Albion cleared the danger. Some in the crowd suggested that Kuszczak’s stop was reminiscent of Gordon Banks from Pele back in 1970.
Then came the move of the match. Lopez hit a 30-yard pass expertly over the top of Kieran Trippier. Orlandi outsprinted the full back and crossed for Leo Ulloa who sliced the ball over from about eight yards.
At half time the Albion, although in front, looked to need a second killer goal.
As the second half started the Clarets tried to get Charlie Austin into the game. McCann had clear sight of goal but his half volley was scooped up by Kuszczak.
Burnley midfielder Keith Treacy then suffered the indignity of his well-positioned free kick going out for a throw. Straight after, Austin had a shot which almost hit the corner flag.
Poyet threw on Craig Mackail-Smith for Ulloa and Ashley Barnes for the tiring Orlandi. The two new men up front stretched Burnley.
Mackail-Smith and his industry caused the Clarets defence all kinds of problems.
There was almost a farcical moment when Vicente took a corner into the space that Bruno should have been occupying about 10 yards from the penalty area but the full back and stand in skipper was taking instruction from Poyet on the touchline. He just recovered his position to pick up the pass.
Vicente left the pitch to rapturous applause and was replaced by Gordon Greer and soon after Brain Stock was replaced by ex-Albion man Sam Vokes for Burnley.
Albion were largely comfortable as the game drew to a close, save one effort from Austin which grazed the outside of the post.
The Seagulls dug in for a vital win which sees them occupy the last play-off place.
Albion: Kuszczak; Bruno, Upson, El-Abd, Bridge; Hammond, Dicker, David; Orlandi, Ulloa, Vicente. Subs: Ankergren, Greer, Calderon, Forster-Caskey, LuaLua, Barnes, Mackail-Smith.
Burnley: Grant; Trippier, Long, Shackell, Lafferty; Stock; Stanislas, McCann, Marney, Treacy; Austin. Subs: Jensen, Paterson, Vokes, Ings, Edgar, O’Neill, Bartley.
Ref: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)