LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Ross Barkley inspired Everton to an eighth successive Premier League home success by beating Burnley 3-1 on Saturday at the end of a tricky week for the midfielder.
Barkley was allegedly punched on a night out and was then inadvertently embroiled in a dispute which saw The Sun newspaper banned from the club after derogatory comments about him from columnist Kelvin MacKenzie.
The 23-year-old Englishman let his football do the talking with his 71st-minute strike which deflected off Burnley's Ben Mee to secure the crucial second goal.
Phil Jagielka's close-range effort had given Everton the lead just after halftime only for goalkeeper Joel Robles' rush of blood in needlessly conceding a penalty. That allowed Burnley striker Sam Vokes to equalize.
After Barkley's intervention, Romelu Lukaku added Everton's third in the 74th — making it nine successive Goodison Park games with a goal for the striker to match the record of the great Dixie Dean in 1934.
The future of both Barkley and Lukaku remains in doubt. Lukaku is refusing to sign a new contract and Barkley is not committing himself to another. But Barkley was the main man for Everton against Burnley, heading off the line in either half, as he proved effective at both ends of the pitch.
Even a booking for climbing into the Gwladys Street end to celebrate his goal could not put a dampener on a day which ended with a standing ovation with Barkley's substitution a minute from time.
Everton, which last won eight in a row at home in the league in 1990, climbed to fifth place. But the Toffees are only ahead of Manchester United on goal difference, having played three games more.
Burnley is still looking for an away win this season, but is eight points clear of the drop zone with five games remaining in the league campaign.