Burnley 1 Newcastle United 2
- Craig Pawson
A Callum Wilson brace saw Newcastle United sign off the 2021/22 season on a winning note and condemn Burnley to the Championship.
On an afternoon of desperation for the home side, the Magpies looked composed and relaxed throughout, with Wilson – once from the spot and once from close range – clinical in front of goal.
Maxwel Cornet pulled one back for the Clarets but their slow start to the game, coupled with events in West London – where Leeds were never once trailing to Brentford – meant they were always having to do things the hard way. In the end, it was too little, too late, with the Lancashire club’s six-year stay in the top flight coming to a close.
The Magpies, meanwhile, ended the campaign in an impressive 11th place.
Any early momentum either side might have been looking to generate was stalled by an injury to Joelinton, who was stretchered off in the tenth minute after apparently hurting his ankle. United responded quickest after the game got back up and running and, following their first real attack, were gift-wrapped the opportunity to take the lead following two moments of madness by Nathan Collins. First, the young Irish defender tried to dribble his way out of trouble deep inside his own box, only succeeding in losing possession to Wilson, who teed up Bruno Guimarães 18 yards out. After the Brazilian’s strike was parried by Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier’s in-swinging corner was missed by the Burnley ’keeper before Collins, inexplicably, helped the ball out of play with a raised hand. Craig Pawson actually missed the offence initially but barely needed to glance twice at his pitchside monitor after VAR was called into play. Wilson, typically, was ice cool from 12 yards.
With relegation rivals Leeds goalless at Brentford, Wilson’s spot kick meant the Clarets now found themselves in the Premier League’s bottom three. They looked edgy during the following exchanges and took their time to respond. Finally, after the half-hour mark passed, they started to probe, with Dwight McNeil twice letting fly from range. The winger’s first effort sailed over the top, though his second brought a save out of Martin Dúbravka.
Collins got away with one shortly after the restart, nearly putting the ball past Pope with what should have been a routine clearance. If Collins himself was feeling nervous, there were another 20,000 inside Turf Moor soon feeling far, far worse as news filtered through of Leeds’ goal at Brentford. Those emotions started to trickle down onto the pitch, where an air of desperation set in. As Burnley started to pile forward in search of the first of two goals they now needed, they were undone on the counter. Saint-Maximin made headway down the left before squaring for Wilson, who produced a simple finish.
At that point, the Clarets looked dead and buried. But with 69 minutes on the clock, they managed to give themselves the slightest glimmer of hope. Collins, partially atoning for an otherwise erratic performance, found a pocket of space on the right before teeing up Cornet, who slammed the ball past Dúbravka at the second attempt.
To their credit, Mike Jackson’s side really went for it after that, and were unfortunate not to grab at least a draw. Word of a Brentford leveller against Leeds further lit the touch-paper, and with 11 minutes to play, substitute Wout Weghorst came within a whisker of finding the goal which would, at least temporarily, have lifted the Clarets out of the bottom three, sliding in and turning Ashley Barnes’ powerful centre agonisingly wide.
Jack Cork and Cornet, twice, had further chances late on, the former only denied by a Targett clearance off the line. But time got away from the hosts in the end, while Leeds’ late winner would have rendered any last-gasp equaliser academic. For United, Targett’s intervention and two extra points were the difference between 11th and 13th and a highest Premier League finish since 2018.