How it played out as Vincent Kompany switch inspires Burnley to comeback win against Sunderland
Dan Neil and Amad Diallo put Sunderland 2-0 up before second-half goals from Nathan Tella, substitute Manuel Benson, Anass Zaroury and Josh Brownhill completed a stunning comeback win on Wearside.
Vincent Kompany named two changes to his starting XI after the midweek game away to Birmingham City with Ashley Barnes coming into the side at the time of Burnley’s attack, replacing Jay Rodriguez who dropped to the bench.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson – who scored from the bench in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with the Blues in the Championship – took club captain Jack Cork’s place in the team.
In Cork’s absence, Josh Brownhill – playing in his usual number 10 position behind Barnes – wore the armband at the Stadium of Light as Burnley began the clash in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Vitinho at left-back and Conor Roberts on the opposite flank of Claret’s defence.
Sunderland started in similar form to Burnley’s with Alex Pritchard as the central attacking midfielder who drifted between the lines and linked play for the Wearsiders, causing some early problems for centre-backs Charlie Taylor and Harwood-Bellis.
Burnley worked the opening half of the game before Gudmundsson was booked inside the first two minutes for hacking down Sunderland’s Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo on the edge of the home side’s box. Jack Clarke then had the game’s first attempt on goal in the third minute, but Muric was equal to the tame shot.
It was Sunderland who took the lead in the 16th minute after Pritchard danced around Burnley’s backline to play in Clarke before the striker spotted Amad in acres of space and the Ivorian then got a simple finish with Burnley left-back Vitinho nowhere to be found. set.
Just three and a half minutes later, Dan Neil smashed home a second for Sunderland after Elliot Embleton’s cross from Burnley’s left was headed aimlessly into the air by Roberts. Kompany’s men huffed and puffed but created no clear openings before going into the break 2-0 up at half-time.
Winger Manuel Benson replaced Barnes with Nathan Tella going into a striking tole as Burnley looked to revive their performance in the second stanza – and it paid off after a Burnley corner was headed home by Tella from close range in the 50th minute.
Sunderland still posed some threat on the break, but Amad and Embleton both had shots on Muric’s goal before Benson’s cross almost caught goalkeeper Anthony Patterson out.
But Patterson was not so lucky in the 60th minute when substitute Benson equalized for the away side after the Sunderland keeper was out of sight. Seconds later, however, Clarke saved a one-on-one shot by Muric in a crucial intervention by the Swiss stopper.
Sunderland looked to break Burnley’s dominance in the second half, but it was Kompany’s men who took the lead for the first time after Zaroury’s right-footed curler left Patterson with no chance.
Kompany picked Cork and Rodriguez to secure things from the bench after the goal, with Gudmundson and Tella making way. Minutes later, Samuel Bastien replaced Zaroury. Brownhill made it 4-2 with minutes to go to end a stunning comeback by Burnley.
After the game, Burnley boss Kompany stated that he “hated everything about the first half” against Sunderland, but praised his team for their reaction to a “fantastic” home side.
“In all fairness Sunderland did fantastic, they had a lot of injuries,” Kompany said. “They are going through a period where they have had to find solutions to difficult problems, and they never did so well.
“I think whatever the manager said before the game, I think it worked a lot better than what we said and what we did. The bottom line is that it was a tough game.”
Of his players, Kompany added: “I keep telling them. It’s Burnley. You are not somewhere in London or Madrid or wherever. You are in Burnley. The only way to get respect from people is to work hard. It’s an incredible grind.
“If you put it forward, people will forgive you if you have a bad game, but that wasn’t the story in the first half. So in the second half it was, as I said, beyond something. You can’t even expect what they did in the second half. It was relentless and I’m very happy about it.
“To be fair to the lads, I don’t think we’ve sat here too many times questioning intensity and energy. After the first half was the first time. When you’re down, there’s not too much to lose.
– We have the players to come back. I wasn’t disappointed with the first half positions we got into, it was just that we couldn’t beat our direct opposition. In the second half, these players did, and that was the difference.
“This was the biggest lesson we could have had. I’m not going to say we got away with it because the performance was too good in the second half, but we all know it could have been a bad day and that would have been our own doing. Well , not just our own doing as it is unfair as I think Sunderland were very good and we just didn’t do it.
“The lesson is you never give up and if you fall short of your standards you are average. It’s that simple.”
Asked about a potential injury to goalscorer Zaroury after he limped off towards the end against Sunderland, Kompany remained upbeat. “We’ll see. It seems to be just a kick and as a winger you want to get them.”