Newcastle recorded their third successive Premier League victory as they capitalized on Burnley’s defensive frailties to move up to 13th in the table.
Federico Fernandez’s effort, which deflected in off Clarets defender Ben Mee for an own goal, and Ciaran Clark’s header from a Matt Ritchie cross proved decisive for Rafael Benitez’s side.
Burnley had lost their past 23 top-flight matches in which they had conceded the first two goals and, although, Sam Vokes responded for the home side – connecting with Mee’s long ball to loop a header over goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from almost 18 yards – they were unable to force an equaliser.
In truth that would have been harsh on Newcastle, who were superior for long periods and could have added to their tally through Matt Ritchie and substitute Joselu, who struck the post.
The result leaves Burnley 17th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.
Burnley’s defensive woe continues
While Burnley began the encounter having scored the same number of goals (12) as at this stage last term, their major problems have come at the other end of the pitch.
Their success in finishing seventh in the Premier League in May was largely based on their solid defence, but those foundations have crumbled in a start littered with individual and collective errors.
Clark’s goal was the 27th they have conceded this season – it took until 31 March for them to concede that many in 2017-18.
Both of Newcastle’s first-half goals were symptomatic of those problems. Mee’s own goal came after Clarets forward Chris Wood made a dreadful attempt to clear a corner under little pressure, and it was compounded when the defender diverted a shot past Joe Hart that appeared to be drifting wide.
Newcastle’s second was another gift, with Burnley initially failing to react at a corner and then allowing Clark a free header from eight yards.
Things might have been worse for the hosts but Magpies wing-back Matt Ritchie somehow contrived to miss from two yards out in the second period after another defensive error.
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said he had been able to laugh about Ritchie’s miss after the match
Burnley also appear to be suffering from another problem, with former England defender Danny Mills identifying the predictable nature of their attacking play as a further area of concern.
“I’m a massive fan of Sean Dyche, but you can’t keep playing like that – pumping long balls up to two big lads up front,” Mills told BBC Radio 5 live.
“They need something different. They’ll score the odd goal like that but not two or three and then you’re not going to dominate sides, so you’ll always be under pressure. They need to change the way they play.”
Newcastle finding their feet
After an abject start, taking three points from a possible 30 in a winless 10-game run, Newcastle have at last found their feet.
Benitez’s side had lost each of their past 10 Premier League games played on a Monday night before this trip to Lancashire.
But if the omens were not in their favour, their performance at Turf Moor was indicative of a team growing in confidence.
Benitez’s tactics, which included the deployment of a trio of central midfielders, enabled them to control the game.
There were also solid performances from Fernandez and Fabian Schar at the heart of a reinforced rearguard.
The Argentina and Switzerland defenders both arrived in a summer when a lack of investment in the transfer market led.
But unity appears to have been temporarily restored and both played their part in this success, making 10 clearances each, alongside Clark, who made 11.
Republic of Ireland defender Ciaran Clark scored his second goal of the season for Newcastle and also made the most clearances of any player
Burnley 1-2 Newcastle: We must keep confidence high – Rafa Benitez
“Every game for us is like a final. Winning is massive because it gives us more confidence. There is still a long race ahead but we are doing well and hopefully we can continue that.
“We needed to win and to perform well. The players did it and were amazing in terms of effort, organisation and team spirit.
“We were working in the week trying to manage Burnley’s two big centre-forwards and the players did really well.
“The main thing for us is to make sure we can get something out of these games. We have confidence now and the players will continue pushing and working hard.”