Football

Howe savours Clarets' best showing

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Eddie Howe hailed the best performance of his brief reign after a thumping 3-1 win over Middlesbrough lifted Burnley to within two points of the npower Championship play-off places.

England Under-21 striker Jay Rodriguez opened the scoring in clinical fashion in the 22nd minute and then embarked on a delightful run to provide a second for Wade Elliott a minute later. Eight minutes before the break, defender Michael Duff headed in a third as Burnley moved to within striking distance of sixth-placed Leeds.

The Clarets face Simon Grayson's side at Elland Road on April 30 and, having ended a dismal six-match winless sequence with victory over Swansea, they may feel they are beginning to rediscover their best form at the right time. Howe said: "I thought the lads were magnificent and it was definitely our best performance since I've been here."

He added: "We started on the front foot and the most pleasing thing was the amount of chances that we created. There were a lot of really good performances and hopefully we can continue to build. We've got four games to go and hopefully it will be an exciting end to the season."

Two wins inside the past four days have propelled Burnley right back into contention for a top-six finish.

"Two games ago we looked out of it but we are back in there fighting," added Howe, who also paid tribute to Rodriguez after a fine display from the Burnley-born striker.

"Jay was a real thorn in their side. Part of his make-up is that he works really hard and he's also versatile. He just dropped in to the left flank and I thought him and Chris (Iwelumo) were a really good partnership."

Middlesbrough replied through Andrew Taylor's late strike but the defensive flaws which have undermined them all season were glaringly apparent during the first half. Boro boss Tony Mowbray held up his hands and conceded: "This was a free shot at three points for them.

"They were always going to come at us strong at the start, but we weren't ready for it and that's the frustrating thing for me. It's an easy story to write - the team that wanted it more - but I'd like to think that's not the case. Two goals in as many minutes knocks the stuffing out of any team. That gave us a mountain to climb and it proved too much.

"The evidence was out there on the pitch."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Sunderland
Maxi Rodriguez
Football
Andrew Taylor
Jay Rodriguez
Wade Elliott
Championship
Middlesbrough
Leeds United
Michael Duff
Eddie Howe
Swansea City
Andrew Taylor
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