London Irish v Exeter ChiefsMay 18 LIVE
Burnley blow Southampton away in 12-minute second-half spell
Ashley Barnes scored twice and Johann Berg Gudmundsson added the third.
Burnley scored three goals in 12 second-half minutes to get their Premier League season off to a flying start with a 3-0 victory over Southampton at Turf Moor.
The Clarets, who struggled to recover from a poor start to the last campaign, did not have a shot on target until Ashley Barnes netted the opener in the 63rd minute.
He then scored again with their second seven minutes later, with new signing Erik Pieters the creator on both occasions, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson grabbed the third in the 75th minute.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl put striker Che Adams straight into the starting line-up, and the former Birmingham man had a sight of goal inside two minutes but at full stretch could only poke Yan Valery’s cross wide.
The visitors had made the better start and Nick Pope, making his first Premier League appearance since May 2018, had to be sharp to hold on to a well-struck shot from James Ward-Prowse.
VAR made its Turf Moor debut in the 16th minute after Barnes capitalised on a slip from Jack Stephens to play in Chris Wood, who tapped in.
Barnes had immediately been flagged for offside and, although optimistic Burnley fans swiftly began a ‘VAR’ chant, the decision was upheld.
Southampton’s defence had on the whole dealt well with the considerable presence of Barnes and Wood up front but a good spell of pressure from the hosts ended with Gudmundsson fizzing a shot just wide in the 27th minute.
VAR was used again four minutes later when Adams caught Ben Mee late, his studs connecting with the Burnley man’s shin.
There had not been any appeals but it was checked for a possible red card. Had referee Graham Scott sent the striker off, the decision may well have been upheld, but it was not deemed a clear and obvious mistake.
Fresh from signing a new four-year deal, Nathan Redmond produced a rare moment of real quality just before the break when he cut in from the left before seeing a curling shot tipped over by Pope, while Barnes shot over at the other end.
Sean Dyche did not look too happy with his side’s efforts and it was Southampton again threatening in the early stages of the second half.
James Tarkowski felled Redmond just outside the box but Ryan Bertrand’s free-kick narrowly cleared the bar.
With the rain continuing to lash down and the wind swirling, it was perhaps inevitable that the opening goal would come from a mistake, and so it proved.
Pieters surely did not envisage his high, outside-of-the-boot clearance turning into an assist but Jannik Vestergaard misjudged it, letting in Barnes, who controlled the ball smartly and beat Angus Gunn with a convincing finish.
Seven minutes later the same pair linked up for Burnley’s second, this time a more conventional deep cross from Pieters met smartly by Barnes’ right foot.
By now Burnley were full of confidence and their third goal in quick succession arrived courtesy of a long clearance from Pope and fine play by Gudmundsson.
The Icelander seized on more defensive hesitation, racing away down the right and then curling a pinpoint shot into the far corner. There was a lengthy wait while it was checked by VAR for a possible foul but the goal stood.
Pope preserved his clean sheet with a smart save in the 82nd minute, denying Vestergaard with his feet at this near post, and a perfect afternoon for the home fans ended with the introduction two minutes later of hometown hero Jay Rodriguez.
The striker left Turf Moor seven years ago to join Southampton but returned this summer from West Brom.