Sean Dyche deepened the relegation worries of his old club Burnley as his return to Turf Moor ended in a 2-0 win for Everton.
Dyche, who twice guided the Clarets to promotion and kept them up against the odds during a decade at the club, promised to show no sentimentality 20 months after his sacking amid their last, unsuccessful, battle against the drop, and first-half goals from Amadou Onana and Michael Keane silenced Turf Moor.
They proved all Everton needed as they won four league games in a row for the first time in three years, their eighth league win of the season already matching last year’s tally as they continue to climb away from trouble. Without their 10-point penalty, Everton would be up to ninth.
Burnley chairman Alan Pace, the man who sacked Dyche in April 2022, failed to welcome Dyche back in his programme notes but the one-time ‘Ginger Mourinho’ is still loved in Burnley, where the Royal Dyche pub proudly bares his name, and he emerged from the tunnel to a standing ovation from all sides.
Vincent Kompany, who brought Burnley back to the Premier League with a 101-point campaign in the Championship, has rebuilt the club in a different image. Having taken four points from their last three games to match the return from the previous 13, Burnley started well, keeping Everton pegged back.
But the results they desperately need are not there to match, and although Dwight McNeil, one of three former Burnley players in the Everton 11, spurned a glorious chance Everton needed only 19 minutes to take the lead.
James Trafford did well to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s close-range header but Burnley failed to defend the resulting corner and it was all too easy for Onana to get away from Josh Brownhill and power in at the far post.
Jacob Bruun Larsen and Jay Rodriguez both saw shots blocked in the Everton box, and six minutes later it was 2-0 to the visitors.
Jordan Pickford hit a long free-kick forward and James Tarkowski headed it down for another former Claret, Keane, to try his luck from range. Trafford parried, but the ball struck Dara O’Shea and fell kindly for Keane, in for the suspended Jarrad Branthwaite, to sweep home his first goal of the season.
Burnley’s early promise dissipated in a silent Turf Moor. They did threaten again just before half-time but Ben Godfrey, making only his second Premier League appearance of the season, got a vital toe to Vitinho’s cross before Zeki Amdouni.
At half-time Kompany turned to Lyle Foster, the South Africa forward surprisingly named among the substitutes after a recent absence to deal with mental health issues. The 23-year-old replaced Rodriguez to make his first appearance since October 21.
Burnley were better after the break, but only managed to create half-chances. Sander Berge had an early shot blocked before Foster failed to get enough power on his effort.
After Trafford failed to clear a corner and Keane had a close-range shot blocked on the line, Amdouni offered a more direct threat at the other end when he eyed up Pickford’s far post from 25 yards out, forcing the England goalkeeper to stretch and push it wide.
Berge rattled the crossbar in the 79th minute, though his shot from the edge of the box would not have counted with the flag up.
It was that old familiar story for Burnley, who dominated possession and had 14 shots at goal but ended the day empty-handed, stuck on eight points from 17 games and off the bottom of the table on goal difference alone. Boos greeted the final whistle.