Burnley’s five-year run in the Premier League has come to an end after a 2-1 home defeat by Newcastle United on the final day of the season. Leeds United needed to better Burnley’s result and did just that with a 2-1 win at Brentford to ensure they survived and sealed the Clarets’ fate.
Callum Wilson struck twice at Turf Moor to earn Newcastle a 2-0 lead and although Maxwel Cornet pulled one back to give Burnley fans hope, it was not enough. Raphinha put Leeds in front in west London and, despite Sergi Canos’s leveller for a Brentford side who finished the game with nine men, Jack Harrison’s late winner ensured all three points and Leeds’s Premier League status.
There were jubilant scenes at the Brentford Community Stadium. Leeds manager Jesse Marsch lay on his back punching the air as he celebrated Harrison’s strike which all but guaranteed survival, and again at full-time when he was mobbed by his staff on the touchline as the players raced to celebrate with their supporters. Leeds director Victor Orta, one of those who orchestrated Marsch’s arrival following the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa, came onto the pitch and aimed the travelling fans’ joy towards the American coach.
“A hot day, not easy for either team, but we got the lead which was really important,” Marsch said. “When we were up two men, we still didn’t want to leave it up to fate, and so we were trying to push for the winner so we could secure our fate the way we waned to. Four games I’ve been here and this team has been able to dig deep in injury time and find winners, goals that get us draws, so the character of the group is clear and it’s a privilege to work with these guys.”
Marsch added that he wanted to change the mentality of the team to end their reliance on that grit. He added: “I heard a lot about Leeds United doing it the hard way. Part of my job is to change that mentality. We are an incredible club with an incredible team. I have heard it is the Leeds way but I am not buying into that.”
The pictures at Brentford were in stark contrast to the desolation 200 miles north where Burnley players and fans were coming to terms with their relegation. The club’s hierarchy took a bold decision to sack long-time manager Sean Dyche with eight games remaining, the man who had steered them to consistent overachievement in the top flight. The intial bounce under caretaker Mike Jackson appeared to fade in the final weeks.
“It is very raw at the moment, it is hard to find the words,” Jackson said after the match. “The players have given everything they can. We had some really good chances. On another day, if you take them, then who knows.”
Asked whether the club, which was taken over by new owners this season and laden with debt, was in good hands going forward, Jackson responded: “Why wouldn’t it be? There are good people here who want to do well and they want the club to bounce back. It is small steps with planning and making sure you have everything in place.”
Burnley finished in 18th on 35 points, three behind Leeds, and will join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship next season.
Cornet’s second-half goal sparked a spirited fightback but the hosts could not convert their late period of dominance into goals as Newcastle hung on for victory. Newcastle, who lost forward Joelinton to injury early in the game, were awarded a penalty for a handball by Nathan Collins following a VAR review and Wilson slotted in from the spot to put the visitors ahead after 20 minutes.
Burnley mustered only one shot on target, when Dwight McNeil tested goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from long range just before the break, in a poor first half where they created little of note in attack. Wilson doubled Newcastle’s advantage on the hour mark after finishing off Allan Saint-Maximin’s low ball across the box before Cornet halved the deficit and set up a frantic finish.
Cornet’s initial close-range volley was parried away by Dubravka before the Ivorian smashed the rebound into an empty net, but Burnley’s valiant efforts were thwarted by Dubravka’s saves and a goalline clearance from Matt Targett.
Marsch and his Leeds team had a first-half Joe Gelhardt goal ruled out for a narrow offside on video review but finally took the lead when Raphinha scored from the penalty spot in the 56th minute. That followed a blunder from Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, who carelessly played the ball out to Raphinha and then brought him down with a desperate tackle.
Canos headed Brentford level in the 78th minute only to dent his team’s chances with a sending-off for two yellow cards in quick succession soon after. Harrison scored the winner for Leeds in added time to ensure they will be back in the top flight next season.