Joey Barton announced his return to the English Premier League with a 78th-minute winner as Burnley moved into the Premier League’s top half with a 1-0 victory over Southampton.
The 34-year-old agreed to rejoin the Clarets earlier this month following an ill-fated spell with Rangers and 601 days after his previous appearance in England’s top flight, when his QPR team were beaten 5-1 by Leicester, Barton came off the bench to place home a late free-kick.
Sean Dyche has taken a risk in reacquiring Barton, not least because he faces a possible Football Association ban for breaching betting regulations, but his popularity at Turf Moor has endured, and the admiration was reciprocated as the midfielder fist pumped in front of the crowd after netting.
Five minutes after coming on, Barton was presented with a free-kick after Oriel Romeu fouled George Boyd. From around 25 yards away from Forster’s goal, Barton deceived the Saints stopper by planting the set piece low, around the wall and into the net.
Ryan Bertrand and Virgil van Dijk were both denied equalisers by Heaton, who then made a terrific double save to thwart Rodriguez and Josh Sims, the latter somehow stopped when Heaton dove down to his left on the line.
However, it was Barton who would grab the headlines, as has so often been the case in his colourful career.