Manuel Benson scored twice as Burnley came from behind to beat Middlesbrough and extend their lead at the top of the Championship to six points.
More importantly for Vincent Kompany’s Clarets, the win sends them 10 points clear of third place in the promotion push, ahead of Saturday evening’s meeting of fellow hopefuls Norwich and Blackburn.
Defeat at Turf Moor brought to an end Michael Carrick’s run of four wins and a draw in Boro’s past five games, after they had taken a shock lead against the run of play in the 49th minute.
Clarets winger Benson, trying to keep the ball in play on halfway, succeeded only in hooking it back towards his own goal and, with the Burnley defence caught square, Duncan Watmore, a half-time substitute, ran clear to tuck the ball past Aro Muric.
Belgium Under-21 winger Benson made up for his error with two goals in seven minutes to give the Clarets the lead.
He cut inside Boro left back Ryan Giles to fire in a left-footed shot which beat Zack Steffen at his near post.
His second goal – and seventh of the season – was even more embarrassing for the United States international goalkeeper as Benson drifted in a cross from wide on the right.
With two Burnley players attacking the ball, Steffen was distracted and remained rooted to the spot as the ball bounced into his net off the far post.
Burnley made sure their unbeaten home record stayed intact when Josh Brownhill curved a corner to the near post, where it glanced in off the head of Boro midfielder Jonny Howson for an own goal.
Boro seemed to have been given a lifeline in the 90th minute when Connor Roberts was adjudged to have handled on the goal-line as Chuba Akpom’s header bounced down off the bar.
That earned the Wales international a red card and gave the visitors a penalty, but Akpom’s spot-kick was saved by Muric, diving low to his right.
Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:
“I’m bitterly disappointed and frustrated, and I feel for the boys because I thought for large parts of the game they stuck to their task and frustrated them for long spells.
“We put ourselves in a great position because of the way we defended for long spells. I say ‘defended’ but I felt we actually controlled a lot of it without the ball. You don’t always have to have the ball to control it.
“We had them in areas we were comfortable with for long spells in the first half, and then went 1-0 up, and then had a moment where it was either a penalty or a free-kick right on the edge of their box when Chuba [Akpom] was brought down was a huge moment for us.
“I was told it was minimal contact but when you’re in that position and in control of the ball as Chuba was, to protect the ball as you were taught as a kid, and if a defender brings you down you expect a free-kick or a penalty.
“Their first goal was a good finish but was avoidable in terms of knowing what his (Benson’s) strength is, as we want to show him away from that area. Then an inswinging cross – the danger with inswinging crosses even if nobody touches it it can still go in – but again knowing it was on his left foot we had to show him away from that.
“Just a shame at the end we didn’t have that chance late on to have a right go for the last five minutes because it would have been really interesting if the penalty had gone in.”
- 14RobertsBooked at 89mins
- 4CorkBooked at 75minsSubstituted forBastienat 87′minutes
- 17ManuelSubstituted forBarnesat 76′minutes
- 7GudmundssonSubstituted forChurlinovat 87′minutes
- 9RodríguezSubstituted forTwineat 87′minutesSubstituted forTaylorat 90+5′minutes
- 1SteffenBooked at 58mins
- 26LenihanBooked at 90mins
- 8McGreeSubstituted forMuniz Carvalhoat 72′minutes
- 21ForssSubstituted forWatmoreat 45′minutes
- 9Muniz Carvalho
Match ends, Burnley 3, Middlesbrough 1.
Second Half ends, Burnley 3, Middlesbrough 1.
Foul by Darko Churlinov (Burnley).
Isaiah Jones (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Burnley. Charlie Taylor replaces Scott Twine because of an injury.
Foul by Ashley Barnes (Burnley).
Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Darko Churlinov (Burnley).
Isaiah Jones (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ashley Barnes (Burnley) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Darko Churlinov with a headed pass.
Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Scott Twine (Burnley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough).
Scott Twine (Burnley) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Hayden Hackney (Middlesbrough).
Penalty saved! Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Connor Roberts (Burnley) is shown the red card.
Penalty conceded by Connor Roberts (Burnley) with a hand ball in the penalty area.
Attempt blocked. Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Burnley. Darko Churlinov replaces Jóhann Gudmundsson.