BURNLEY bought the curtain down on pre-season with a low-key defeat at home to Espanyol.

The sight of continental opposition at Turf Moor is usually one of the highlights of pre-season, but the successive Sunday friendlies with Montpellier and Espanyol have been overshadowed by more meaningful business this summer.

Sandwiched between the adrenaline hit of Thursday night’s thrilling Europa League win over Aberdeen and this week’s exciting and daunting trip to Turkey to take on Istanbul Basaksehir, the visit of the La Liga side was always going to be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show.

None of the side who started against the Dons were involved at Turf Moor, giving some of the fringe players the chance to impress and teenager Dwight McNeil again showcased his potential, while Adam Legzdins was heavily involved in the first half.

But the sight of the first team regulars remaining on the bench throughout showed that the serious business awaits later this week, first with the trip to Istanbul and then the quick around for Sunday’s game at Southampton, where the Clarets’ ability to cope with the dual demands of Europe and the Premier League will be tested for the first time.

The early stages were more notable for confirmation of Ben Gibson’s £15million move from Middlesbrough, the first new arrival at Turf Moor this summer and the 25-year-old made the dash from the training ground to Turf Moor to watch his new side.

He arrived just in time to see Jon Walters sting the palms of Espanyol goalkeeper Roberto inside three minutes, but it was Legzdins who was the busier goalkeeper in the early stages.

The former Birmingham City man will drop a place in the Turf Moor pecking order when Joe Hart completes his move from Manchester City on Monday, but he was determined to show he had something to offer against the La Liga outfit.

His first save from Didac was routine, but he then turned behind Mario Hermoso’s header before making the best stop of the lot, palming away Javi Lopez’s fierce 20-yard drive, which had come through a crowded penalty area.

It was a fourth save of the game on the half hour, with Hernan Perez beating the offside trap only to see his angled drive turned behind by Legzdins.

Burnley’s biggest threat was coming from set-pieces, with Dwight McNeil’s delivery causing problems and Kevin Long headed one corner just wide and one over.

Legzdins was unable to repeat his first half heroics when Espanyol took the lead early in the second half. It was well crafted move, with Perez firing a ball into Borja Iglesias in the area and his touch set up Didac, who held off the challenge of Phil Bardsley and slotted his finish under the advancing Clarets goalkeeper.

Perez was close to doubling Espanyol’s advantage, but he could only fire into the side-netting after being found in space by Iglesias’ pass, before Sergio Garcia rifled an 18-yard drive narrowly over the bar.

Burnley were struggling to land a blow on the Espanyol defence, with Nahki Wells tame 20-yarder comfortable for Roberto, although he had to be sharper to punch away Dwight McNeil’s rasping half-volley from the edge of the box.

A raft of Espanyol changes saw the game fizzle out towards the end, but the visitors almost doubled their advantage when Jeff Hendrick lost possession near the corner flag and from Javi Lopez’s low cross Pablo Piatti’s shot was narrowly wide.

And they did make it two just before the end, Sergi Darder picking the ball up 22 yards from goal before firing a low shot into the bottom corner, beyond the dive of the despairing Legzdins.

Burnley: Adam Legzdins, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Charlie Taylor, Jon Walters, Aiden O’Neill, Jeff Hendrick, Dwight McNeil (Mace Goodridge 88), Nahki Wells, Dan Agyei (Ali Koiki 66)

Subs not used: Trialist, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Sam Vokes, James Clarke, Josh Benson, Tunde Bayode