Gray’s treble makes Sunderland suffer
This proved the perfect ending to the year for Burnley as they demolished a woeful Sunderland team to put further distance between themselves and those battling at the foot of the division.
Andre Gray’s hat-trick – the first by a Burnley player in the Premier League – inside 22 minutes either side of halftime and a penalty from Ashley Barnes ensured that it was another one of those days for Sunderland manager David Moyes, who watched his team fall to their heaviest defeat of the campaign.
It was all the more galling for Moyes, who lamented “defensive frailties”, that this capitulation was served up against supposed rivals in the scrap for survival. Already deprived of outstanding goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, injured on Monday at Old Trafford, Sunderland’s prospects were hindered further when influential defender Lamine Koné collided with the advertising hoardings in the 18th minute and was replaced six minutes later.
Burnley went ahead seven minutes later following calamitous defending, with John O’Shea, Papy Djilobodji and Vito Mannone all culpable.
“We started relatively well and there was nothing in the game,” Moyes said. “Losing Lamine was a big blow and meant us reorganising, so that just threw it all. We couldn’t really cope with a bit of old-fashioned Englishstyle balls forward, over the top and down the channel. The first one, two of them go for the same ball and none of them win it and I think we [Mannone] should save it as well.”
The visitors’ deteriorating prospects were epitomised by Victor Anichebe’s hamstring giving way on the stroke of half-time.
Gray doubled Burnley’s lead in the 51st minute, with Sunderland again architects of their own downfall. Dean Marney’s through-ball was easily gathered by Gray and what followed represented a dereliction of duties by Djilobodji, who allowed the forward to escape and gave up as Gray descended on Mannone.
Gray completed his hat-trick by striking the ball beyond Mannone – his confidence restored after his matchwinning exploits on Boxing Day.
“It gave him confidence the other day because he was quiet but he sticks in there, he waits for his chance and he works for his chance and when it comes he has got that lovely knack of scoring,” said Burnley manager Sean Dyche. “He’s got that fearless streak in him if he misses. It’s like, ‘so what? Give me another chance’.”
Adnan Januzaj’s inventive slalom laid on a goal for Jermain Defoe, but it was not enough to lift the gloom on a desperate day for Moyes and his team.