2016/2017 English Premier League
  • Joey Barton (78')

Joey Barton strikes to give Burnley victory over Southampton

Joey Barton announced his return to the Premier League with a 78th-minute winner as Burnley moved into the top half of the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Southampton.

Barton, 34, agreed to rejoin the Clarets earlier this month following an ill-fated spell with Rangers and came off the bench to place home a late free kick.

Sean Dyche has taken a risk in reacquiring Barton, not least because he faces a possible Football Association ban for breaching betting regulations, but his popularity with Burnley fans has endured.

Turf Moor had been the venue for each of Burnley's previous seven top-flight wins this season and it was on their home form alone that they entered this contest with a chance to move into the top half.

Away from east Lancashire it has been a different story, with just a solitary point from their travels, and the 3-1 loss in this reverse fixture back in October had seen Saints fire 34 shots at Tom Heaton's goal.

The England international was less busy in the opening 45 minutes here, even if Southampton spent much of the half on top.

Dusan Tadic steered one attempt wide from the left-hand side of the box before lashing in a volley that Ben Mee had to clear at the back post.

Mee was an unlikely threat at the other end having headed a corner wide and fired another effort off target from the edge of the area, but he was caught out in his defensive duties as Saints launched a 40th-minute counter.

Shane Long lost Mee down the right and his cross was met by the oncoming James Ward-Prowse, whose downward header was beaten away by Heaton. Tadic seized upon the loose ball but Michael Keane hacked it away.

Saints' problems surrounded their lack of an attacking spark and they came into this fixture with only Hull and Middlesbrough having scored fewer league goals this term.

Their 20th goal of the season might have arrived had Nathan Redmond tried to convert Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's left-wing cross with his left foot rather than tamely side-footing with his right from 15 yards out.

Steven Defour tested Fraser Forster from range while Long headed a Cedric Soares cross into the side netting, but it seemed that if anyone was going to get a winner, it might be either of two substitutes - Saints' returning Burnley-born forward Jay Rodriguez or the Clarets' Barton.

The latter's first act was to clear away inside his own box from Long as Virgil van Dijk's header back across from a free kick caused panic.

Then, just five minutes after coming on, Barton was presented with a free-kick after Oriel Romeu fouled George Boyd. From around 25 yards out, Barton planted the set piece low, around the wall and into the net.

Ryan Bertrand and Van Dijk were both denied equalisers by Heaton, who then made a terrific double save to thwart Rodriguez and Josh Sims, the latter somehow stopped when Heaton got to his effort on the line.

English Premier League Standings

1 Manchester City 16 +37 46
2 Manchester United 16 +25 35
3 Chelsea 17 +17 35
4 Burnley 17 +4 31
5 Liverpool 16 +14 30
6 Arsenal 16 +10 29
7 Tottenham Hotspur 16 +14 28
8 Leicester City 16 +1 23
9 Watford 17 -3 22
10 Everton 16 -9 19
11 Southampton 16 -3 18
12 Huddersfield Town 17 -17 18
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 16 -7 17
14 AFC Bournemouth 16 -4 16
15 Stoke City 17 -17 16
16 Newcastle United 16 -9 15
17 Crystal Palace 17 -16 14
18 West Bromwich Albion 16 -10 13
19 West Ham United 16 -18 13
20 Swansea City 16 -9 12

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