Derby County suffered their second defeat in five days, as a goal in each half from Charlie Austin and Michael Duff sealed a 2-0 victory for Burnley at Turf Moor in this afternoon’s Boxing Day encounter.
The npower Championship’s leading goal-scorer Austin handed the Clarets the lead in the 40th minute, when his low half-volley took a final deflection off Richard Keogh before finding the bottom corner.
A spirited second-half display from the Rams ensued, but Nigel Clough’s men could not find a way past Lee Grant, and were made to pay for their missed opportunities when Duff headed home from Ross Wallace’s corner in the 74th minute.
It was a rain-swept Turf Moor which allowed both sides to play a quick, slick style of football, and although the two teams looked dangerous going forward, the final ball in key areas of the pitch was often thwarted by an opposing defender.
However, Martin Paterson almost handed the Clarets an early lead after being sent clean through on goal in the opening four minutes, courtesy of Danny Ings’ clever threaded pass. But in a one-on-one with Adam Legzdins, the Rams’ shot-stopper came out on top and produced a fine save to deny the forward.
Derby’s first effort of the half came through midfielder Paul Coutts, who ran at the Clarets’ back-line only to see his subsequent long-range effort deflect off Duff, and wide for a corner.
Patterson was proving Burnley’s main threat in the first 45 minutes, and the Northern Ireland international came close to netting the first goal of the game when he cut inside, but his low shot was superbly blocked by Keogh.
Keogh had to be alert moments later as Keiran Trippier’s dangerous cross found Austin, but under the aerial challenge of the former Coventry City man, Austin could only head the ball against the defender.
However, from the subsequent corner, the much coveted forward showed exactly why he is leading the goal-scoring charts, as he took full advantage with his first real opportunity of the game.
After the ball was initially cleared, Trippier’s cross from the right bobbled around in the penalty area; Austin took control and lashed a half-volley through a crowd of players into the bottom corner, via a cruel deflection off John Brayford that left Legzdins with little chance in the Rams’ goal.
Before the half was up, the returning Mark O’Brien headed over the crossbar from Michael Jacobs’ dangerous free-kick, but that was a close as the Rams came to an equaliser in the opening period.
In the second half, Burnley started brightly with Wallace slicing a half-volley wide and Austin denied a second after being outmuscled by John Brayford in the Derby penalty area – all inside the opening 10 minutes of the restart.
Moments later, Ings burst through the middle of the pitch, only to be thwarted by a fantastic last ditch tackle by Keogh, which in turn sparked a Rams counter-attack that saw Jacobs beat the offside trap, but the former Northampton Town winger was beaten to the ball by the onrushing Grant.
But as the game edged towards the 60 minute mark, the Rams started to get a real foothold on the game. Craig Bryson forced Grant into action with a deflected drive that looped up into the air, before Derby produced their best chance of the half - a matter of seconds later.
The Clarets backed off Jacobs as he ran towards goal, and the 21-year-old took it as an invitation to shoot; his low drive was palmed clear by Grant, however the ball fell to Coutts and the Scotsman sent the rebound onto the post, from a tight angle.
In a period where the Rams were on top, Clough introduced Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson in an attempt to find an elusive equaliser, but it was the Clarets that proved clinical, as Duff headed Burnley into a two goal lead.
Wallace’s left-wing corner was met by the towering Duff at the far post, and despite Legzdins’ and Roberts’ best efforts, the ball squirmed over the goal-line.
Substitute Robinson almost made it a nervous final few minutes for the Clarets when he got on the end of Coutts’ low cross, but the striker’s volley fell inches wide of goal.
Derby County: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, O'Brien (O’Connor 83), Roberts; Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Bryson (Tyson 65), Jacobs; Sammon (Robinson 72).
Subs Not Used: Fielding, Doyle, Freeman, Davies.
Burnley: Grant; Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Lafferty; Marney, McCann, Wallace; Ings (Stock 72), Paterson (Treacy 62), Austin (Vokes 68).
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Mills, Bartley.