Burnley 1 Wolves 1: Chris Wood denies visitors with controversial last-gasp penalty in huge blow to Nuno’s Europe charge

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CHRIS WOOD snatched the most dramatic of last-gasp levellers to save Burnley – and his own blushes.

Yet it came in a storm of controversy, with Wolves convinced the Clarets strikers should have been pulled up for a high boot instead of Mike Dean pointing to the spot.

Referee Dean ruled that Phll Bardsley’s 94th minute head back into the box struck a leaping Matt Doherty on the top of the arm – a decision confirmed by video official Kevin Friend.

But Doherty and Co had just cause for claiming Wood’s boot was just inches from the defender’s face as he tried and failed to connect with an overhead kick.

To be fair, at least we got a ruling within a minute – not that it came as any consolation to the visitors.

Certainly not when Wood picked himself up, plonked the ball down…and smashed it into Rui Patricio’s top corner for the equaliser.

At least it put a smile on the Kiwi striker’s face, just seconds after he had been guilty of one of the worst misses you’ll see all season.

Keeper Patricio had totally lost the ball and was way out of his ground when Matej Vydra nodded back across an empty goal.

Wood, though, got his bearings all wrong as he launchd himself to connect, with only a flailing Conor Coady on the line to protect the net, and shanked his header wide.

It says much for Burnley’s spirit, then, that they had the spirit and character to mount one final attack which proved so vital. It says even more for that of the player himself.

For until that moment it looked certain that Raul Jimenez’ stunning volley was going to keep Wolves top four dream alive – along with their hopes of a decent summer break after all.

It also earned the Mexican his own little slice of Molineux history, as the first man in Old Gold to hit 17 in a top-flight season since John Richards in 1975-76.

But back Wolves’ marathon men, as last night was their 55th game of a campaign that began just nine days shy of a whole calendar year ago, with a Euro qualifier against Crusaders.

Finish in the Champions League slots and they could actually get a bit of a break before the following one begins.

Miss out, as now seems likely, and – with this term’s Europa League duties running into August – they could face a qualifier for the NEXT one just a week after their season ends.

No wonder Santo speaks so proudly of what his players – in only their second year back in the top flight, remember – have done.

 

They probably just about deserved to win this one as well, on a bitingly cold Turf Moor night. Or, as they call it in East Lancashire, mid-July.

Jimenez had sent one header straight at Nick Pope, the giant keeper’s fingertips had stopped Diojo Jota from having a tap-in, while Adama Traore was the predictable fizzing danger.

And while Daniel Podence looks young enough to travel half fare on the bus, he is certainly up to the task and sent another low strike scudding just wide.

The closest call, though, came when Romain Saiss leapt in a packed six yard box for a Joao Moutinho corner, but his point blank effort came off the back of his head and went wide.

If Burnley hadn’t been so well organised at the back would probably have found a way through.

As it is they did have one fine moment of their own, and how fitting that it fell to Jay Rodriguez.

The local boy striker chases lost causes as enthusiastically as a spaniel chasing a Frisbee, and nearly got his reward with a great breakaway move that was blocked by the flying Coady.

And then Burnley themselves were fuming at NOT getting a penalty, when Saiss took a grab at Josh Brownhill before his strike that Ruben Neves deflected behind.

Admittedly it would have been the harshest of calls, but that didn’t stop Clarets chief Sean Dyche from nearly blowing a gasket on the touchline.

Not nearly as much as Santo was in danger of doing when he watched the replay of the one that WAS given.

On such calls can a season fall…and with it any chance of a summer holiday.

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