BURNLEY, England (AP) — Burnley's relegation woes deepened after losing to Aston Villa 3-1 in the English Premier League on Saturday for the team's first defeat under interim manager Mike Jackson.
Steven Gerrard's Villa did both Everton and Leeds a big favor by ripping Burnley apart. Emi Buendia made the most of only his second start since February with a goal and an assist after coming in for the dropped Philippe Coutinho.
Danny Ings scored against his old team for a fourth goal in four matches against Burnley, and Ollie Watkins applied the killer blow.
Substitute Maxwel Cornet thumped home a stoppage-time consolation goal for Burnley but the damage was already done, perhaps doubly so with key defender James Tarkowski hobbling off in the second half.
Defeat means Burnley could end the weekend back in the bottom three if Leeds and Everton pick up points from tough fixtures away to Arsenal and Leicester, respectively, on Sunday.
Everton is in third-to-past place, two points behind Burnley and Leeds in the tight relegation scrap.
Jackson took an unlikely 10 points from a possible 12 since replacing the fired Sean Dyche last month. But a fourth straight victory, which would have matched Dyche’s tally all season, proved well beyond his side as Villa was clinical in front of goal a week after sending Norwich down with a 2-0 win over the last-placed team.
In a week where it emerged relegation would mean Burnley’s ownership must immediately repay a “significant” proportion of a 65 million pound ($80 million) loan taken out during its takeover in December 2020, this was a result to concentrate minds at Turf Moor after a superb few weeks under Jackson.
With Coutinho having made it six games without a goal or an assist last weekend, Gerrard handed Buendia a start as one of four changes to his side, and the Argentine needed a little over half an hour to register one of each.
Ings had already threatened once, curling wide after cutting in from the left, but made no mistake when Buendia’s pass split Burnley’s center halves with seven minutes gone to allow him a simple finish.
Villa doubled the lead in the 31st minute after Burnley failed to deal with a deep cross. Watkins and Ings worked the ball to Lucas Digne, whose pull-back to the penalty spot found Buendia and his side-footed shot went in with the help of a deflection off Tarkowski.
Things got worse after the break for Burnley when Tarkowski hobbled off to be replaced by Kevin Long, and the defence was left exposed as Watkins killed the hosts off only seven minutes into the second half.
John McGinn had space to send in a cross and Watkins was afforded the freedom of the penalty area to head past the stranded Pope, sealing a win which lifted Villa to 11th.
Though Cornet rounded Martinez to lash home a consolation strike, this was an ominous defeat given the Clarets must go to Villa Park in 12 days for one of the three matches left in which they can secure their Premier League future.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press