ASHLEY BARNES scored for both teams as Burnley staged a superb comeback to beat Bournemouth and take a giant step towards Premier League survival.
This win fired the Clarets eight points clear of third-bottom Cardiff.
The Bluebirds have as game in hand but if the Burnley avoid defeat against them at Turf Moor next Saturday they should be safe from relegation.
That would be a remarkable achievement for Sean Dyche and his men who have taken an incredible 24 points from 14 matches since Boxing Day.
Things are not looking so rosy for Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, whose faltering side have now just won one of their last nine games.
Howe revealed before kick-off defender Charlie Daniels will be sidelined for “some time” after undergoing surgery on a knee he injured at Leicester last week.
Bournemouth took a fourth-minute when Ryan Fraser’s free-kick into the box was flicked on by Jefferson Lerma and Burnley striker Barnes, under pressure from Nathan Ake, headed into his own net.
David Brooks then wasted a great chance to add a second for the Cherries when he scuffed a shot straight at Clarets keeper Tom Heaton.
And what a costly miss that proved to be as Burnley levelled in the 16th minute when Ashley Westwood’s corner caught out Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic and Wood stole in at the far post to head the ball over the line from barely a yard out.
Westwood then went from provider to scorer as the visitors took the lead two minutes later with a goal Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham will not want to watch again.
The rookie Wales centre-back, 21, has been outstanding for the since his £12million switch from Brentford in January and before kick-off he was presented with the Cherries’ Player of the Month award for March.
But he must have felt like giving his prize back when his attempt to clear Dwight McNeil’s cross out of the box with a cultured pass resulted in the ball ending up the feet of Westwood, who smashed it into the far corner. Callum Wilson should have equalised four minutes later but he somehow headed Brooks’ cross over the bar from six yards.
The in-demand England striker was not the only Bournemouth player misfiring. Wales winger Brooks has been outstanding this season, but he was outshone by Burnley’s boy wonder McNeil, who was bidding to become the first teen to score in three consecutive Premier League matches since Romelu Lukaku for West Brom in 2013.
McNeil may not have scored but he tormented Nathaniel Clyne so much Bournemouth boss Howe took off his on-loan Liverpool right-back at half-time and replaced him with Diego Rico.
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Not that it improved the Cherries who were fortunate not concede a third straight from the restart as Wood’s shot was deflected just wide of Begovic’s right post.
When Burnley’s third did inevitably arrive in the 56th minute it was shrouded in controversy and clumsiness.
The hosts believed the ball had run out of play on the left before Begovic spilled Charlie Taylor’s deflected cross at the feet of Wood, who pulled the ball back to his strike partner Barnes, who fired home – in the right net this time – to seal a fine win for the Clarets.