Burnley were dealt a cruel blow on their return to the Premier League as Leroy Fer sealed a 1-0 victory for Swansea City at Turf Moor.
Last year’s second-tier champions suffered their first league defeat since Boxing Day, 24 games ago, as Dutchman Fer, who made his move to South Wales permanent in the summer, finished from close range in the 82nd minute.
The Swans had sold both Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams in the week but their resurgence under Francesco Guidolin carried on regardless, even though record signing Borja Baston was absent here and Gylfi Sigurdsson started on the bench.
Burnley’s own transfer business is yet to be concluded, with a record fee for Belgian midfielder Steven Defour understood to be agreed with Anderlecht, and they will be keen to kickstart their campaign soon having started their previous Premier League tilt with a 10-game winless run.
They will have seen this home fixture against Swansea as an ideal chance to record an early victory and although Scott Arfield’s half volley forced Lukasz Fabianski into early action, Guidolin’s three-man central midfield, featuring new skipper Leon Britton and one-time Burnley loanee Jack Cork, was able to dictate play against a Clarets side still looking to replace Joey Barton.
A couple of tame attempts from Fernando Llorente aside, few problems were posed to Sean Dyche’s team, though, and the threat of Andre Gray was evident as he crashed one half volley over and drilled another into Fabianski’s fists.
The visitors would finish the half stronger as Wayne Routledge smashed a volley wide from the edge of the box after being picked out by Modou Barrow and Arfield was on hand to clear off the line when Jordi Amat looked to turn home from a corner.
Both goalkeepers were guilty of failing to deal with crosses at the start of the second period and were fortunate they were not punished on either occasion. Tom Heaton missed a Kyle Naughton delivery but Barrow’s try was blocked by Matthew Lowton and Fabianski could not collect a David Jones corner which nearly reached Michael Keane, whose shirt seemed to be tugged by Fer.
Gray’s pace continued to worry Swansea’s backline and after Amat was booked for hauling him down, Fabianski burst out of his box to slide in as the former non-league forward threatened in behind.
The Pole was back between the sticks to deny Sam Vokes a first top-flight goal with a fine one-handed save and that was the cue for Guidolin to call on Sigurdsson.
Not only did his introduction give Swansea fans an excuse to perform the ‘Viking Clap’ made famous by Iceland during the summer, his free-kick almost crept in as Heaton got down to divert the ball for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece, the visitors should have led. Sigurdsson’s corner was flicked on by Cork and Federico Fernandez ghosted in only to stab over from inside the six-yard box.
Time was running out for a winner and though Burnley felt they might have been awarded a penalty when Dean Marney thought he was clipped by Fer, the visitors always looked more likely to grab a goal once Sigurdsson and Jefferson Montero arrived from the bench.
Montero regularly had the beating of Lowton and it was from another of his right-wing crosses that Llorente’s header was clawed out by Heaton only for Fer to arrive and roll home.
It proved to be enough to give Swansea the three points, although they were indebted to Fabianski’s terrific reaction stop from Marney’s deflected effort in stoppage time.
More to follow…