Matej Vydra helps Burnley overpower Southampton, with Europe on the horizon

Matej Vydra’s goal makes it three wins in four league matches for Sean Dyche's side

Burnley's Czech striker Matej Vydra (L) and Burnley's English goalkeeper Nick Pope react at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Burnley at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on February 15, 2020. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
 / AFP / Glyn KIRK                           / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
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Burnley braved the elements and whatever Southampton threw at them, and suddenly, European football appeared on the horizon.

A third win in four Premier League matches lifted the Lancashire club just about into the table's top half, pulling into view Sheffield United in fifth, who sit a mere five points better off. Given developments this weekend, that spot could yet offer Uefa Champions League football.

Used to peering over their shoulder – they finished 15th last season – but buoyed by their recent rude health, Burnley are now looking up.

"We just want to build on last season," said manager Sean Dyche, following a 2-1 victory that was secured amid Storm Dennis and built on grit and grizzle. “We want more points. It's another shift forward. It's about development. We just have to find a way to win. That's the art of the game – to win."

Matej Vydra’s goal on the hour sealed it, a fine take and a ferocious strike that deserved to settle any encounter. On as a first-half substitute, it was the Czech forward’s first league goal since September 2018.

Vydra controlled Jeff Hendrick’s raking pass, touched the ball away from an opponent, and drilled a glorious effort beyond Alex McCarthy in the home goal. Bringing to an end his 510-day drought, it was well worth the wait.

"I was waiting so long for this chance and just tried to do my best and help for three points,” Vydra said. "It was a brilliant goal, but most important is the three points.

"Four games, three wins; we are going up in the table and everyone is happy right now."

Well, everyone in Burnley claret. For Southampton, their home troubles persist. From 13 matches on the south coast, they have lost eight, the worst of any team in the division on their own patch.

Clearly, problems at the back have hurt. Vydra’s goal was the 30th Southampton have conceded at St Mary’s this campaign; it is more than half a century since another top-flight side gave up as many in as many games.

"It's not about the kit we wear, it's about the game we play,” offered Ralph Hassenhuttl, the Southampton manager. “We were not that clinical and not that good.

“We lost against a better team if you want. We conceded too early and too easily.”

That much was correct. Burnley were handed the lead in the second minute, when former striker Danny Ings believed Ashley Westwood’s corner was curling outside the neat post. Ings moved out of the way, watching in horror as the ball landed inside his goal. It was Westwood's second goal direct from a corner in less than a year.

However, Ings soon made amends. On 18 minutes, he collected the ball on the edge of the Burnley area, edged away from the opposition and bent a beautiful shot past Nick Pope. It was the 15th goal of a superb individual season, Ings' best return since hitting 21 for Burnley in the Championship six seasons ago.

His significance to his current employers is obvious. The Englishman has scored almost 50 per cent of Southampton's league goals this season. No other club relies as heavily on a single player.

Still, it wasn’t enough. Just like Jack Stephens' header that smacked the crossbar, or his late appeal for a handball when Ben Mee blocked his cross with his arm. Southampton claimed – with good reason – VAR was consulted, but ruled it to have been accidental.

“We could have had a penalty but I won't discuss it because it's boring talking about these decisions,” Hassenhuttl said. "It's frustrating to see that sometimes it is and sometimes it's not.

"We tried in different ways to beat this opponent and didn't. They did well and fought for everything.”

To their credit, Burnley did just that.

"Even when we go on a bad run our heads don't go down,” Westwood said. “The win today was massive for us and it's put us in a good position."