Emiliano Buendia won’t be on Burnley’s Christmas card list if they stay in the Premier League — despite handing them a potential lifeline here.
The Clarets’ six-year stay among the elite is hanging precariously in the balance after Aston Villa’s club record €39m signing cancelled out Ashley Barnes’s penalty lead at Villa Park.
That came less than two weeks after the little Argentinian scored one and supplied an assist in Villa’s 3-0 win at Turf Moor.
No thanks to Buendia then, that Burnley’s battle for their top-flight status goes to the wire with a home game against Newcastle United this Sunday.
By contrast, mid-table Villa will have an influence on matters at the other end of the table as they have the chance to be party poopers at Manchester City’s potential Premier League title crowning.
Coming just three days before that trip to the Etihad Stadium, Villa manager Steven Gerrard rested big guns Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings.
But it still looked a formidable task for Burnley to get the result they were looking for.
That feeling certainly persisted in the early stages as Villa made a rousing start to proceedings, dismissing any notion that they have hit the beaches prematurely.
The Clarets came up the same season Villa went down, in 2015-16, and for the early stages of the game, it looked the teams were heading in different directions again.
Buendia had two half chances. First the Argentinian midfielder saw an angled shot blocked, before his flick was deflected wide as Villa piled on the pressure.
Villa midfielder John McGinn forced the first save of the game when Nick Pope had to palm away the Scot’s curling effort in the 17th minute.
Burnley belatedly showed as an attacking force soon afterwards however.
Dwight McNeil’s curling half volley – which was heading for the top corner – was headed behind by Matty Cash.
Villa returned to the attack however and it was Cash who had their next opportunity, flashing a fierce angled drive narrowly over the bar.
Burnley were struggling to stem the flow of deliveries from Villa’s left and this time an excellent cross from Jacob Ramsey found McGinn 20 yards out for a rising shot that was superbly clawed away by Pope.
The breakthrough surprisingly went Burnley’s way as they took the lead against the run of play.
Buendia showed his impetuous side when he conceded the 43rd-minute penalty from which Burnley took the lead.
The former Norwich City playmaker missed a tackle on Maxwel Cornet but made sure with the follow through, chopping down the forward for a clear spot kick, which was expertly despatched by Ashley Barnes for his first goal since February 2021.
Buendia was quick to atone for his error, equalising within three minutes of the restart.
Sprinting forward unchallenged into the Burnley penalty area, he met a beautifully flighted pass from McGinn full on the volley.
The power was too much for Pope, who got a good hand to the shot but couldn’t prevent the ball bouncing past him.
Josh Brownhill tested Emiliano Martinez shortly afterwards with Burnley’s furst serious attempt in open play.
But Villa soon pushed for the winner. Pope tipped over a powerful half volley from Ollie Watkins and substitutes Bertrand Traore and Danny Ings drilled wide, before Pope tipped away Traore’s header.
If Burnley lose their proud Premier League status, they will look back at the 85th minute as one of the reasons as to why.
Connor Roberts’s shot was turned onto the post by Martinez, then substitute Wout Weghorst’s follow-up was diverted wide by Tyrone Mings.
On such moments futures are decided.
Former Villa right back Matt Lowton was sent off for a late challenge on Calum Chambers just six minutes after coming on as a substitute, but thankfully it didn’t affect the outcome.
ASTON VILLA (4-1-2-3): Martinez 7; Cash 6, Chambers 6, Mings 6, Digne 7; Douglas Luiz 6; McGinn 8, J Ramsey 6 (Coutinho 71 minutes, 6); Buendia 7, Chukwuemeka 6 (Traoré 57 minutes, 6), Watkins 6 (Ings 78 minutes, 6).
BURNLEY (5-3-2): Pope 7; Roberts 6, Long 6, Collins 6, Tarkowski 6, Taylor 6; McNeil 6 (Lennon 79 minutes, 6), Brownhill 7, Cork 7; Cornet 6 (Lowton 85 minutes, 6), Barnes 7 (Weghorst 71 minutes, 6).
Referee: Paul Tierney 7/10