BY SAM SMITH
Ben Mee scored the only goal as Crystal Palace were defeated by Burnley in a tight game at Selhurst Park.
Mee’s header midway through the second half was let in too easily by the usually dependable Vicente Guaita. This was a chance for either to go level on points with seventh-placed Tottenham but the South Londoners never truly threatened the Clarets.
Burnley should have led in the 20th minute when Mee met a corner and volleyed the ball across the goal but nobody was on hand to tap in. The Eagles half-cleared before Dwight McNeil fired over.
Gary Cahill then fired over following a cleverly worked corner routine in an end-to-end start to the first half.
Neither side truly tested either goalkeeper in the opening 45 minutes. Nick Pope made a routine save from a long-range Jordan Ayew effort before James McArthur headed over a Joel Ward cross.
Guaita parried Josh Brownhill’s centre into the path of Erik Pieters but the left-back failed to make the most of the opportunity and was soon closed down by Ward.
Ayew was perhaps fortunate not to be sent off early in the second half. The Ghanaian was fouled by Josh Brownhill and appeared to catch the Burnley midfielder with his forearm. VAR decided it was not violent conduct.
Cahill tested Pope and Patrick van Aanholt almost met Wilfried Zaha’s cross but it was Burnley who took the lead with their first second-half chance. Mee met Ashley Westwood’s free-kick with a diving header and Vicente Guaita could not keep the ball out.
Roy Hodgson’s side struggled to break down a tight and compact Burnley defence. Andros Townsend fired over. Ayew then missed the Eagles’ best chance, meeting a Zaha cross but heading over from close range.
Zaha and Scott Dann both saw efforts deflect over the bar as Palace struggled to find an equaliser.
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