Leeds United continued their fine form at the end of their first season back in the Premier League with an impressive victory over Burnley at Turf Moor.
Mateusz Klich curled in from the edge of the penalty area shortly before half-time and Jack Harrison’s flicked finish from Ezgjan Alioski’s strike after 60 minutes all but sealed the three points.
Substitute Rodrigo then scored twice in three minutes to complete a fine away win, producing a delightful chip over Bailey Peacock-Farrell for his first before rounding the Clarets keeper for Leeds’ fourth.
The result means Leeds have lost only once in nine league games and remain on course for a top-half finish – if not a late push for European football.
Burnley confirmed their Premier League safety with victory over Fulham on Monday and had made a promising start, but Charlie Taylor produced an excellent sliding block to deny Raphinha and the Brazilian also attempted an instinctive over-head strike prior to Klich’s opener.
Matej Vydra was thwarted by the outstretched leg of Illan Meslier as Burnley pushed for an equaliser, before the visitors’ dominant end to the contest ensured Burnley remain 15th.
Following the game, Burnley boss Sean Dyche confirmed a report will be passed to the Football Association after an on-field incident involving Dwight McNeil and Ezgjan Alioski.
Relentless Leeds just keep going
Leeds are ending their first Premier League campaign in 16 years in great form and, though they began second-best on Saturday, Bielsa’s side showed their class in a dominant second-half display.
Bamford had gone closest in the opening stages as he forced Peacock-Farrell into action, before Klich ended Burnley’s resistance before the interval with an unopposed run and fine finish into the bottom corner.
With England midfielder Kalvin Phillips back to handle the physical test posed by the hosts and the flare of Raphinha reinstated in attack, Leeds were able to cut loose in the closing stages despite a quiet afternoon for top scorer Bamford.
Rodrigo replaced Bamford – who was unable to further his case for an England call-up – before the hour mark and it proved an inspired decision as a tiring Burnley were unable to live with the sharp movements of the £26m summer signing from Valencia.
But Harrison, 24, was arguably the standout performer as he claimed a goal as well as two assists for Rodrigo – leaving only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes with more goal involvements from midfield in the Premier League this season.
Pressure off for Burnley
The pressure is now off for Dyche’s side, after a sixth successive season in the Premier League was secured with three games to spare this week.
It is a remarkable achievement by a club that spent only about £1m on reinforcements in preparation for a season made more congested by the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, given the challenges posed, Dyche said this had been the “most successful” of the Clarets’ recent top-flight campaigns – despite qualifying for Europe for the first time in 51 years in 2018.
However, he will be hoping the return of 3,500 supporters for Wednesday’s visit of top-four-chasing Liverpool can inspire Burnley to improve their home form.
They have collected more points away from home than at Turf Moor in the fans’ absence this term, and their wait for a home win now stands at a club-record nine league games, stretching back to 27 January.
Other than a committed team display, the performance of left-back Taylor offered a positive for Dyche in defeat, as the former Leeds player displayed his ability at both ends of the pitch – including his goal-saving challenge to deny Raphinha – in his 100th Premier League appearance for Burnley.
‘We’ve earned the right to be in the Premier League’ – what the managers said
Burnley boss Sean Dyche told BBC Sport: “We had a big emotional result on Monday. We gave the players and couple of days off and started ever so brightly. There was not much in the game but they were very clinical and we weren’t.
“It’s hard to tinker when you haven’t got many players. Mostly, we carry around 20 players and there have been times when we’ve had seven injuries, so it’s been a bit stretched.
“We have got 39 points and earned the right to be in the Premier League. We need to build. I really like the club record of being in the Premier League season on season.”
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa told BBC Sport: “They were two different halves. At the start of both it was difficult for us to dominate. They had the dominance but in the first half we didn’t suffer chances and attacked well. In the second half we were more efficient but we also conceded a few more chances.”
On his players being in good physical condition: “You can verify that by looking at the data. I never thought that could be the case. It would have worried me if we had finished the season in physical decline.”