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I was denied ‘blatant penalty’ in Burnley defeat, says Cardiff’s Gunnarsson

Cardiff midfielder Aron Gunnarsson felt he was denied a clear penalty in the Bluebirds’ controversial 2-0 defeat by Burnley on Saturday.

The main talking point occurred just after half-time when referee Mike Dean awarded Cardiff a penalty for handball by Ben Mee only to reverse his decision after discussion with his assistants.

But manager Neil Warnock felt a later challenge by Charlie Taylor on Gunnarsson was the most obvious of a number of penalty appeals, and the Icelandic midfielder agreed.

He told Press Association Sport: “It was a blatant penalty. He said I was looking for his leg, which I wasn’t, I’ve never done that in my life.

“I’ve just looked at it again now. He caught me on my left leg and my ankle goes, so I don’t know how I’m meant to stand up to that. Outside the box it’s 100 per cent going to be given.

“When you’re down there these decisions don’t fall your way, simple as that. But we need to get going again. Another huge game on Tuesday against Brighton that we need to prepare for.”

After Saturday’s results, Brighton appear the only side still within the sights of Cardiff, who are five points adrift of safety with five games left.

A 5-0 loss to Bournemouth was the Seagulls’ fourth in a row, and Gunnarsson, Cardiff’s longest-serving player, knows this is his side’s big chance.

He said: “We’re still obviously going to fight until the end, but it’s another big game, like this was. Obviously we came here for three points. It didn’t happen unfortunately. I thought we battled hard. We fought hard for it. It was a scruffy game, but in the end we didn’t do enough.”

The 29-year-old insists Cardiff do not need a sense of grievance to fuel them for the final five games, saying: “You want to do it for your club, for your fans, for your team-mates, to prepare well and be at it every game.

“We need to focus on that. You can’t get frustrated or fuelled by some decisions that didn’t go our way. Football doesn’t work that way.”

Burnley’s victory, secured by two Chris Wood goals, moved Sean Dyche’s side 11 points clear of Cardiff and virtually guaranteed a fourth successive season in the Premier League.

Warnock believes Cardiff can learn from Burnley, saying: “They’ve been very fortunate here, but they’ve earned the luck over the last few weeks. They’ve got results when they’ve had to.

“You need to play teams at the right time and I think they have had that little bit of luck as well, but Sean’s done a fantastic job keeping them where they are. We’ve got to look at them.

“I know they went down the first year he was here and they’ve built the club back up and they’re doing really well. We don’t want to go down, but the club’s stable now and it could look to the future.”

Both of Wood’s goals were created by 19-year-old winger Dwight McNeil, whose emergence has been the biggest success story of the Clarets’ season.

“He’s a real talent,” said Dyche. “I’ve said it for weeks now, and a long time ago when he first came into the side. His calmness at the end to dribble out of trouble, he’s a really good player and he can only mature.

“It’s not been an easy turnaround for us to get to where we’ve got to. There’s still more to come but he’s played a big part in that.”