Match ends, Burnley 3, Birmingham City 0.
Burnley 3-0 Birmingham City: Leaders ease further clear by beating Blues27 December 2022
Burnley restored their lead at the top of the Championship to three points as they deservedly beat a resolute Birmingham City.
Anass Zaroury and Connor Roberts, who both played in the World Cup, scored first-half goals, supplemented by an injury-time third from Nathan Tella, as Vincent Kompany's in-form Clarets completed their 14th win in 24 Championship games this season to edge clear again of second-placed Sheffield United.
Against the second meanest defence in the second tier, the hosts got off to a flyer when Morocco's Zaroury hit the fastest Championship goal of the season - after just 49 seconds.
After helping to set up the first goal, Wales' Roberts then got in on the goalscoring act himself when he ended the first half as it had begun a minute before the break with another neatly worked move down the right.
Tella then rounded it all off as he ran through to score to complete Blues' heaviest defeat of the season - as the home fans enjoyed seeing three goals from their team for the fifth game running at Turf Moor to move them 11 points ahead of third-placed Blackburn.
Sensational though Zaroury's return to EFL action was, there was an element of fortune about Burnley's opener.
A foul on Krystian Bielik at the top end of the pitch in Blues' first attack went unpunished, Burnley broke, Manuel Benson slipped a lovely pass inside the full-back, Roberts drilled over a low cross and Zaroury got in just ahead of Maxime Collin to slot home a superb right-foot finish.
After a month away on World Cup duty, during which he only figured in the third-place play-off game against Belgium, Zaroury's goal was his fourth in their past four home games.
As for Roberts, his goalscoring contribution came only after being freed to play when his pre-Christmas handball red card against Middlesbrough was overturned.
But he made the most of his reprieve.Roberts has now scored three times for Burnley in 2022 - all at Turf Moor
He had already created another opening - from which Benson powered a shot just over - when he contrived a neat one-two with Josh Brownhill, collected a lovely flicked return pass over the top and ran on to make the net ripple.
Burnley had other chances to sentence Blues to an even heavier defeat but keeper John Ruddy denied an instinctive reflex flick from former West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez and Josh Cullen blazed wide with a great chance, before Tella rounded it all off three minutes into injury time.
Both sides are back in action on Friday when Burnley go to Stoke and Blues, who could have top scorer Scott Hogan back, host Hull.
They then both play again on New Year's Day, when Blues are at home to Middlesbrough and Burnley go to Swansea.
Burnley boss Vincent Kompany told BBC Sport:
"It was a game that, while I was not worried about, I knew after the game down at Birmingham, that they would throw up some challenges for us. They gave us a tough time down there. And we know Troy Deeney is a legend of the game, so to get another clean sheet was just as important as scoring three goals again.
"When Anass Zaroury came back from Qatar we didn't know quite what to expect. Does he start? Do we put him on the bench? But what he did in training made the decision for us.
"I love having players with smiles on their faces - and he's one of them. It's great working with players who want to improve. And we're happy to have him.
"And it's so important to have goals from players all over the pitch. Every player believes they can score. But we're not arrogant. We know we have to keep working hard to get those chances."
Birmingham City boss John Eustace told BBC Sport:
"I was really disappointed with the manner of that first goal. It was a foul on Krystian Bielik and it knocked the stuffing out of us to concede that early.
"We regrouped and got a bit of control but then we let that one in on the stroke of half-time to knock us back again.
"We changed a few things at half-time and competed better in the second half. But Burnley are the best team in the league.
"It highlights that, in the final third, we need to be a lot better, especially against a side as good as that. Scott Hogan is close to coming back but he's had a bit a virus."
- 29MaatsenSubstituted forTaylorat 72'minutes
- 24CullenBooked at 35mins
- 17ManuelSubstituted forTellaat 62'minutes
- 19ZarourySubstituted forGudmundssonat 82'minutes
- 9RodríguezSubstituted forBarnesat 82'minutes
- 4RobertsSubstituted forBellinghamat 79'minutes
- 2ColinSubstituted forLekoat 87'minutes
- 6MejbriBooked at 35minsSubstituted forJutkiewiczat 66'minutes
- 8DeeneyBooked at 54mins
- 18ChongBooked at 36minsSubstituted forJamesat 66'minutes
- Darren England
Second Half ends, Burnley 3, Birmingham City 0.
This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/64035025?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA