CHRIS Eagles wasn’t a part of the Manchester United side that suffered the embarrassment of being held to a goal-less draw at Burton Albion five years ago.
But he certainly wasn’t in the mood for the Brewers to enjoy their biggest day out since, this Saturday.
In January 2006, Albion held United at the Pirelli Stadium before losing an Old Trafford replay.
Curiously, the day before, Burton boss Paul Peschisolido was busy helping Derby knock Burnley out of the FA Cup, scoring twice in a 2-1 win at Pride Park.
Albion were still a Conference side back then, under Nigel Clough, and that draw with United was their finest hour before gaining Football League staus in 2009, as Burnley were being promoted to the Premier League.
They reached the fourth round of the cup for the first ever time with a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough earlier in January, to earn a first-ever meeting with the Clarets.
Eagles, however, ensured that would be where their run ended with a virtuoso display.
He scored twice to take his tally to 11 for the season – overtaking Chris Iwelumo as leading scorer in the proces – hitting double figures for the first time in his career.
And with the transfer window closing at 11 p.m. last night, boss Eddie Howe – celebrating his first home game with a second successive win, had a wry smile: “He was excellent – he linked play really well, took his goals well, and performed really well.
“He’s a hard man to pick-up, he’s a really good footballer. I’d have preferred him to play like that after the window shuts!”
Eagles himself admitted after the game he was aware of interest from Everton, but, whatever happened ahead of the deadline last night, it is clear the Premier League is where he deserves to ply his trade.
If that is at Goodison Park, so be it, but if Burnley ward off a concrete offer from the Toffees – which seems to have been 18 months in the offing – the Clarets fans will hope he can get back there next season with their club.
Howe has vested a lot of faith in his talent, handing him a roving role, and encouraging him to get on the ball, and he was too hot for Burton to handle.
He was unfortunate not to walk away with the match ball, having seen a ferocious effort almost snap the bar, before bouncing down on the line, but his contribution proved enough at any rate.
Peschisolido felt 3-1 flattered Burnley, but, in truth, his Burton side were flattered by the final scoreline.
Bar a 10-minute spell before the midpoint of the first half, before Eagles’ glorious opener, and a flurry after pulling a goal back with 10 minutes remaining, there was not a sniff of Burnley following Boro out of the competition. There were 59 places separating the sides, and it showed.
The Clarets manouevered the ball around well, stretching Burton, and only a lack of a clinical edge kept Albion in the game.
Eagles flashed a free-kick just beyond the near post, before Jack Cork had to be alert to deny Aaron Webster after isolated front man Calvin Zola robbed Michael Duff on halfway.
But Steven Thompson curled a shot wide of the far post when he had time and space following an incisive burst from Cork before Scott Malone, one of Burton’s best performers, hit the bar with a free-kick after appearing to run into Clarke Carlisle.
Eagles showed great composure to slot the opener after weaving through from an audacious Cork back-heel just before the half hour, and there looked no way back for Burton even then.
Chances were at a premium after the break, with the Clarets comfortable, before, midway through the second-half, substitutes Ross Wallace and Iwelumo combined to give Eagles a tap-in for his second.
He then crashed a shot against the bar, while Martin Paterson, back after an almost three-month absence, found the side-netting from an Eagles corner.
Paterson and Eagles interlinked again to craft a chance which Wallace ballooned over with his left foot, and Burnley were punished when Malone’s cross was met by Zola ahead of Lee Grant, and his effort went in off the underside of the bar – Burton’s first real chance.
Carlisle headed away from Zola from the impressive Jacques Maghoma’s cross moments later, but Danny Fox and Paterson went close before any worries were dismissed when Wallace’s free-kick was spilled at the feet of Paterson, who gobbled up the rebound.
Eagles could have scored again at the death, only to again hit the side-netting, but Burnley had cruised into the fifth round, to maintain a fine record.
In the last 10 seasons, the Clarets have reached the last 16 five times – which is only bettered by Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Fulham.
The win was only the second time this season Burnley had recorded back to back wins. And they go to Doncaster tonight looking for successive league wins for the first time this campaign on the back of a five-game unbeaten run, and added firepower in the shape of Charlie Austin, who is itching to pull on the shirt after becoming the club’s ninth million-pound-plus signing on Friday.