Premier League

Watford 1-2 Burnley: Player ratings as late comeback keeps impressive Clarets run going

Jamie Spencer
Burnley pulled off a stunning late comeback against Watford
Burnley pulled off a stunning late comeback against Watford / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

Burnley completed a late smash and grab comeback win over Watford to further boost their Premier League survival hopes, whilst also pushing the Hornets all but certainly back into the Championship next season.

An own goal from Clarets centre-back James Tarkowski was cancelled out by late goals from Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill to turn the game on its head.

The result puts Burnley 16th, ahead of Leeds on goal difference ahead of their evening kick-off, while Watford are nine points adrift of safety and have now lost 11 consecutive home games.

Watford started like a team playing as if their lives depended on it and were good value for their early breakthrough when Tarkowski unwittingly turned the ball into his own net after Juraj Kucka’s effort had struck the crossbar and bounced onto the Burnley defender.

It was the first time that the Clarets had been behind under caretaker boss Mike Jackson. But he took the opportunity during a pause in play to gather his players to issue some fresh instructions and it seemed to work because there was soon a response.

Dwight McNeil, who has improved in recent weeks, thought he had won a penalty midway through the first half when referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after a clumsy challenge from Moussa Sissoko. But a VAR review saw it downgraded to a free-kick on the edge of the box instead – McNeil’s resultant attempt at goal was poor and easily cleared.

As the tide turned back in Watford’s favour, Nick Pope had to be alert to tip Emmanuel Dennis’ narrow angled effort wide and prevent the hosts from doubling their lead before the break.

Burnley had the first big chance of the second half only moments after the restart as Aaron Lennon tried to place the ball low across Ben Foster, who was equal to it. But Pope was soon also called into action at the other end, flying to his right to push a powerful Kucka shot to safety.

Watford had Foster to thank for preserving their lead as the game moved towards the final stages, tipping a close-range header from substitute Ashley Barnes onto the bar. But the Hornets couldn’t hold out as Burnley pressure built and built, conceding a 16th and then 17th goal in the final 15 minutes of games this season as Cork and Brownhill struck in quick succession.

There was no pressure on the ball on Burnley’s left, allowing Charlie Taylor to cross to the far post where Cork met it with flying header for his first goal of the season. Brownhill then showed the ultimate composure when the ball dropped to him as Watford failed to clear late on.

The result means that Norwich have been relegated back to the Championship, while hopes of an unlikely goal difference swing are the only thing keeping Watford from officially joining them just yet.

Watford vs Burnley player ratings

1. Watford (4-3-3)

Juraj Kucka
Juraj Kucka impressed all afternoon / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

GK: Ben Foster - 7/10 - Made a big save only moments after half-time and again later on preserve his team's narrow lead at that stage, but stood no chance with either late goal.

RB: Kiko Femenia - 6/10 - Worked hard and started well in particular.

CB: Christian Kabasele - 6/10 - Had mostly been in the right place at the right time but a better clearance in the build up to the late winner could have potentially prevented it.

CB: Samir - 7/10 - Seemed to get his head on everything that came his way.

LB: Hassane Kamara - 6/10 - Played with a physical bite to his game.

CM: Moussa Sissoko (c) - 5/10 - Clumsy in his challenge on McNeil, lucky that it was outside the box and that VAR is a thing.

CM: Imran Louza - 5/10 - Was able to recycle and recover possession often. Could have done more to throw himself in front of Burnley's winner.

CM: Juraj Kucka - 5/10 - Responsible for forcing the early own goal with his shot that came back off the bar. Regularly got into the box but undid his good work by a lazy attempt to stop the cross for the equaliser.

RW: Ismaila Sarr - 5/10 - Seemed to be in and out of the game. Good in patches but not involved enough.

ST: Joao Pedro - 7/10 - Consistently involved in good link up play.

LW: Emmanuel Dennis - 7/10 - Moved all across the front line and asked serious questions of the Burnley defence and Pope.

2. Burnley (4-4-2)

James Tarkowski had a tough start
James Tarkowski had a tough start / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

GK: Nick Pope - 8/10 - Good saves either side of half-time stopped Watford from running away with it when they very easily could have done.

RB: Connor Roberts - 6/10 - Could he have reacted quicker to close down Kucka's early shot? Struggled against Dennis, although he did get forward to put a few balls into the box.

CB: Nathan Collins - 6/10 - Survived Watford penalty shouts when he smartly blocked off a run from Pedro.

CB: James Tarkowski - 6/10 - Probably can't be blamed for the own goal.

LB: Charlie Taylor - 7/10 - Managed his defensive duties well and sent a pinpoint cross into the box for the equaliser.

RM: Dwight McNeil - 5/10 - Was threatening when he played direct, as shown when he almost won a penalty. Overall involvement was too sparse.

CM: Jack Cork - 8/10 - Struggled initially against a relentless Watford start but settled to give Burnley a foothold and gambled to get into the box to equalise and set the comeback in motion.

CM: Josh Brownhill - 7/10 - Tried to get forward to support attacks but didn't lose his determination after several blocked efforts. Popped up with the game's most important moment.

LM: Aaron Lennon - 6/10 - Denied by a Foster save early in the second half but arguably lacked conviction with the finish. Involved in a few chances.

ST: Wout Weghorst - 4/10 - Worked hard off the ball to pressure Watford defenders, but didn't get the service he would have wanted. Hooked with half an hour left and looked really unhappy.

ST: Matej Vydra - 7/10 - A late addition to the starting XI. More involved than his strike partner in general play and got a good assist for the winner.

SUB: Ashley Barnes (60' for Weghorst) - 6/10 - Saw a header deflected onto the bar by Foster's fingertips.

SUB: Matthew Lowton (89' for Lennon) - N/A

SUB: Dale Stephens (90+2' for Vydra) - N/A

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!