Ian Maatsen double guides Championship leaders to victory at Swansea
Two screamers from Dutchman Ian Maatsen enabled Championship table-toppers Burnley to kick-off their New Year with a sixth win in a row as they completed the double over Swansea in a 2-1 win at the Swansea.com Stadium.
Burnley’s energetic high press forced Swansea into some errors, and it was Vincent Kompany’s side who bossed the early exchanges. Not many teams get better possession stats than Russel Martin’s men, but the visitors were dominant to begin with.
They forced the first corner of the game and then pressurised Ben Cabango into selling his defensive partner Harry Darling short with a pass 30 yards out and he was forced to foul the slippery Nathan Tella. He picked up a yellow card and Maatsen lined-up his free kick.
Burnley put two men in the defensive wall, and they did their work perfectly as they dropped to the floor to provide Maatsen with the perfect hole to shoot through and beat Steve Benda in the home goal with a shot that went in off the left hand upright.
Swansea slowly worked their way back into the game and by half-time were functioning on their normal possession ratio of 65 per cent. Ollie Cooper gave Liam Cullen the chance to shoot for a possible fourth goal in as many games in the 18th minute.
The home striker forced a good save out of Arijanet Muric with his left-footed effort. Having posed their biggest threat of the game so far, they then got caught out as Tella for once held off Ryan Manning on half-way and then carried the ball infield.
As he ran from right to left he found Maatsen in space on the left edge of the Swansea area. This time he looked up and rifled an unstoppable shot that flew through the hands of the stunned Benda in goal.
That made it 2-0 to the visitors with only 23 minutes on the clock and it looked as though they might rival the 4-0 scoreline they posted when the two teams met at Turf Moor earlier in the season.
But Swansea stuck to their guns and Cooper grabbed his fourth goal of the season as he followed up a fumble by Muric as he failed to hold a Jay Fulton shot in the 28th minute. The home fans thought they should have had a penalty when wing back Joel Latibeaudiere was brought down moments later, but referee Oliver Langford was having none of it.
Swansea were in the ascendancy as the first-half ended, but after a strong talking to by Kompany in the break Burnley kept the home side on a long leash in the second half and were able to comfortably see out a highly competitive game and move six points clear of title rivals Sheffield United ahead of the Blades’ late kick-off.
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