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Report: Burnley 2-0 Bristol City

City became the latest victims of one of the Premier League’s finest home records as their brief Emirates FA Cup adventure came to an end at Turf Moor.

An even first half boiled down to two chances in the closing stages – one missed by Milan Djuric, one scored by Sam Vokes.

Trailing at the interval, City were unable to stamp their authority on the second period in quite the same way and succumbed to defeat when Steven Defour’s brilliantly-taken second on the counter-attack killed the contest.

It was Burnley’s tenth win in their last 13 home games in all competitions.

Two sides with bigger priorities at hand made a combined 13 changes – five by City.

As promised, Lee Johnson handed a first appearance of the season to Zak Vyner at right-back, while Scott Golbourne, Josh Brownhill, Bobby Reid and Callum O’Dowda were all recalled.

City reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation as a result, with Djuric leading the line on his own in the absence of Tammy Abraham, who joined Hordur Magnusson and Jamie Paterson in dropping to the bench, while Mark Little and Gary O’Neil were sidelined by injury.

Johnson had asked for his side to play with more freedom and saw them make a confident start.

Djuric had the first sight of goal inside three minutes, winning the physical battle with Michael Keane to reach Jens Hegeler’s ball over the top, but could only lob his shot wide from 20 yards on the stretch.

Meanwhile, O’Dowda was enjoying himself against Liverpool loanee Jon Flanagan, twice beating his man on the outside and crossing towards the imposing aerial threat of Djuric.

A first glimpse of Burnley’s threat came courtesy of a loose pass from Reid, which allowed the hosts to build a sustained spell of pressure that culminated in Scott Arfield’s low cross flashing along the six-yard line and only just beyond former City loanee Vokes.

By the midpoint in the first half, the Premier League side had found their composure and were beginning to pose more problems.

Fabian Giefer’s first act was to parry behind an innocuous cross that may have been sneaking inside the near post, before Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s header from the resulting corner deflected narrowly wide.

But with the likes of O’Dowda, Reid and Joe Bryan operating in advanced positions, City had pace to burn on the counter-attack and some of their interplay was sharp.

One minor scare aside, when Gudmundsson was crowded out in the box after Bryan surrendered possession in a dangerous area, City looked comfortable in the game.

In fact Johnson’s men should really have been in front two minutes before the interval.

Young Vyner, who has been used to playing against League Two opposition following a loan spell at nearby Accrington Stanley, did not look out of place against a team three divisions higher and produced an inviting cross on to the head of Djuric.

When the Bosnian connected eight yards out he seemed certain to score, but stand-in goalkeeper Nick Pope made himself big and pulled off an important save.

A matter of seconds later, City were trudging off at half-time trailing. Again guilty of conceding possession in their own defensive third, the visitors were punished when Defour got away from Bailey Wright rather too easily and squared the ball for Vokes to stroke a low shot just inside the far post.

Both sets of players would have to contend with torrential rainfall when they re-emerged from the tunnel and the skiddy surface gave City a heart-in-mouth moment soon after the restart.

Aden Flint’s regulation backpass suddenly threatened to get away from Giefer, who was temporarily caught off guard and only just recovered as the ball gathered pace en route to goal.

Giefer was scrambling to his left in more regulation fashion when Defour eyed up the bottom corner from distance, but the Belgian’s shot veered wide.

Johnson responded with a double substitution on the hour, introducing a two-man strike force in the form of Tammy Abraham and Gustav Engvall as Bryan and Djuric made way.

City had carried less of a threat since the interval but did give Pope something to think about when Brownhill lined up a 35-yard free kick in the 68th minute.

The midfielder struck the dead ball with such force that it dipped and swerved in front of the keeper, who did not need to dive but still opted to parry it straight back out.

When it was swiftly collected by Gudmundsson, City were blissfully unaware of the trouble that lay in wait.

After Defour’s return pass sent the Icelander charging towards goal, the Clarets’ one-time record signing continued his run and then finished the move himself in impudent style, scooping a brilliant chip over the helpless Giefer to effectively kill the tie.

It was a harsh reminder of why Burnley have adapted so well to life back in the top flight after winning the Sky Bet Championship title last season.

Abraham flashed a low drive past the post in retaliation, before Marlon Pack replaced Hegeler in City’s final change.

Vokes crashed a left-footer against the outside of the near post from a tight angle, while Engvall found space in the box but just overhit a cross that left Flint stretching to reach it.

The big defender had one last chance to register a consolation, but his header sailed just past the post as City’s attentions quickly turned to an Ashton Gate doubleheader with vital league points up for grabs.

 

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