Mitrovic at the double as Fulham stun Burnley
Hendrick strike can’t stop Cottagers from sealing significant victory
The thought will be anathema to most football romantics, but Burnley’s hopes for the season may hinge on an honourable defeat. This particular reverse, against a Fulham side that could have scored twice as many, did not really fit the category; eyes at Turf Moor will now be on the two-goal deficit they must overturn against Olympiakos on Thursday, though, and on current evidence a prolonging of their Thursday-to-Sunday regimen would put them at risk of serious trouble.
A relatively kind start to the campaign has now brought just one point and, not helped by the kind of defending that will set alarm bells ringing, they were outmanoeuvred here by opponents whose passing and movement, led by the marvellous Jean Michaël Seri, was simply on a different level.
That fact will bring relief to Slavisa Jokanovic, who will feel confident of his team’s prospects after seeing goals from Seri – with a stunning strike – and André Schürrle sandwich two headers from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Replies from Jeff Hendrick and James Tarkowski presented complications but the home team rarely looked short of answers.
In previous games, Seri had shown flickers of the playmaking ability that, a year ago, brought him to the verge of a move to Barcelona but a goal of such stupendous quality felt like his announcement to the Premier League. His early strike, arrowed across Joe Hart from about 25 yards, was achingly clean and Burnley’s leg-weariness was about to be tested to the full.
As it happened their response was only seven minutes in coming. Counterattacks have been an early-season achilles heel for Jokanovic’s side and the same proved true when Aaron Lenno made ground down the right. His centre reached Hendrick, who appeared to have squandered the chance by allowing Denis Odoi to block; the ricochet fell kindly, though, inviting an angled finish. Fulham would go on to prove decisive victors, however.
Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick celebrates his early equaliser for Burnley