Bottom club Norwich City kept alive their slim hopes of avoiding a quick-fire return to the Championship and dealt a blow to fellow strugglers Burnley with a crucial win at Carrow Road.
Pierre Lees-Melou’s first goal since signing from Nice for £3.5m last July and Teemu Pukki’s 86th minute finish settled a tense relegation scrap – and earned the Canaries only their fifth Premier League victory since winning promotion last season.
French midfielder Lees-Melou’s ninth minute deflected shot, which went in off the post, put the hosts on their way before Pukki drilled home the second to give Norwich a glimmer of hope of staying up, with Dean Smith’s side now seven points from safety with seven matches left.
Burnley had their moments, with Maxwel Cornet, the match-winning hero against Everton in midweek, missing a glorious chance from three yards out.
In what was a must-win game, Norwich’s defence came under relentless pressure at times but withstood everything that was thrown at it to record back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time since October.
The result leaves the Clarets 18th in the table, four points from safety with eight matches remaining.
Gritty Norwich show fight – but have they left it too late?
With struggling Everton beating Manchester United at Goodison Park on Saturday, Norwich started Sunday’s game 10 points from safety with eight matches left.
But Smith’s side passed the pressure test in style with a first win in nine league games.
It will still require a monumental effort for them to survive. Three of their final seven matches include teams challenging for Europe – West Ham (home), Tottenham (home) and Manchester United (away).
Smith said before the match he still had belief, and his players responded with a thoroughly professional performance against a team with renewed belief following their midweek win over Everton.
Even before Lees-Melou’s goal, Milot Rashica forced Nick Pope into a diving save, while the Burnley keeper prevented Pukki from scoring by saving with his legs.
Just as impressive for Smith was his side’s performance at the back.
Norwich made several vital blocks to frustrate Burnley, including one by former Clarets defender Ben Gibson to keep out Ashley Westwood’s volley.
In the closing stages, Grant Hanley headed against the bar while Pope denied Rashica before Pukki had home fans celebrating a rare win.
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- 30GiannoulisSubstituted forWilliamsat 84′minutes
- 20Lees-MelouBooked at 26minsSubstituted forRuppat 69′minutes
- 22PukkiSubstituted forTzolisat 89′minutes
- 3TaylorBooked at 78mins
- 17LennonSubstituted forMcNeilat 64′minutes
- 19RodriguezSubstituted forBarnesat 84′minutes
- 9WeghorstSubstituted forVydraat 56′minutes
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Norwich City 2, Burnley 0.
Second Half ends, Norwich City 2, Burnley 0.
Attempt saved. Josh Brownhill (Burnley) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Maxwel Cornet.
Corner, Burnley. Conceded by Tim Krul.
Attempt missed. Brandon Williams (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Milot Rashica.
Matej Vydra (Burnley) hits the bar with a header from the left side of the six yard box. Assisted by Matthew Lowton.
Foul by Maxwel Cornet (Burnley).
Sam Byram (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Norwich City. Christos Tzolis replaces Teemu Pukki.
Offside, Norwich City. Tim Krul tries a through ball, but Milot Rashica is caught offside.
Foul by Matthew Lowton (Burnley).
Milot Rashica (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Josh Brownhill (Burnley) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Mathias Normann (Norwich City).
Goal! Norwich City 2, Burnley 0. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mathias Normann with a through ball.
Foul by Matej Vydra (Burnley).
Sam Byram (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Burnley. Ashley Barnes replaces Jay Rodriguez.
Substitution, Norwich City. Brandon Williams replaces Dimitris Giannoulis.
Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Matthew Lowton.
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