Burnley 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Tarkowski lifts Clarets out of drop zone
Burnley beat Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at home thanks to James Tarkowski's fortunate goal to record their first win since September and move out of the Premier League's relegation zone.
A run of six defeats in seven league games had seen Sean Dyche's Clarets - who finished seventh last term to qualify for the Europa League - slip into the bottom three.
But they broke that poor run of form with a first win in nine league matches against Brighton thanks to a scrappy first-half goal from England international Tarkowski at a wet and windy Turf Moor.
After a Johann Gudmundsson free-kick was kept alive by Burnley, Jack Cork fired at goal and Tarkowski got in front of Mat Ryan to nudge the ball home and earn a crucial victory that lifts his side to 17th.
Robbie Brady volleyed over a cross from Gudmundsson as both sides struggled for creativity in tricky conditions in the first half.
Chris Wood and Brady then tested Ryan in quick succession as Burnley built momentum.
And the Clarets forced the opener in the 40th minute, Brighton unable to clear their lines from a Gudmundsson set-piece with Cork's drive taking a decisive deflection off defender Tarkowski.
A superb Lewis Dunk clearance denied Ashley Barnes a close-range header against his old club before Burnley saw a strong penalty appeal rejected when Yves Bissouma caught Phil Bardsley with a high boot in the box.
Tarkowski almost scored a second but he glanced Brady's corner just wide before Chris Hughton made a double change in attack, sending on Jurgen Locadia and Glenn Murray.
Solly March rifled a pair of efforts wide and Locadia headed a great chance from Murray's cross over the crossbar as Brighton mounted late pressure, but the hosts clung on to leapfrog Southampton and Huddersfield Town in the relegation battle.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 8, 2018
What does it mean? Vital three points for Burnley
Burnley play Tottenham and Arsenal away next, so this was a must-win game for Dyche's men. Brighton missed talismanic striker Murray, who was fit only for the bench, as the Seagulls failed to test Joe Hart on the goalkeeper's 400th appearance in English football.
Gudmundsson Burnley's spark again
Winger Gudmundsson has been one of the few reliable performers for Burnley this term. His pair of dangerous crosses led to Tarkowski's winner and he provided right-back Bardsley with some crucial defensive cover. That he left the field gingerly when substituted will be a concern for Dyche.
Andone makes no impact
Striker Andone earned a start in attack for Brighton after scoring in consecutive wins in the Premier League for the Seagulls. The Romania international, who was linked with joining Burnley last year, offered little presence and he failed to record a shot before being replaced in the 63rd minute.
Burnley head to Wembley to face Tottenham on Saturday, with Brighton also in action against London opposition. The Seagulls host Chelsea the following day.