BURNLEY ended 35 years of heartache against fierce rivals Blackburn as a late Danny Ings winner settled a passionate east Lancashire derby at Ewood Park.
Jordan Rhodes struck for the first time since New Year’s Day to give Rovers a first-half lead before hitting the post early after the break.
The Clarets seized control thereafter with captain Jason Shackell heading home an equaliser from substitute Ross Wallace’s free-kick.
And with 11 minutes remaining, top scorer Danny Ings rattled home his 20th league goal of the campaign to secure their first victory over Rovers since April 1979.
Sean Dyche’s men are now eight points clear of third-placed Derby, who were surprisingly beaten by Millwall on Saturday, and moved to within five points of leaders Leicester in the Championship.
STRIKE PARTNERSHIPS IN ENGLISH FOOTBALL:
Sturridge and Suarez (Liverpool) – 42 goals
Ings and Vokes (Burnley) – 37 goals
Nugent and Vardy (Leicester) – 30 goals
Clarke and Wilson (Coventry) – 29 goals
Lisbie and Mooney (Leyton Orient) – 28 goals
Extending their unbeaten league run to 12 matches, high-flying Burnley will be hugely confident of a first Premier League return in four years.
Tenth-placed Rovers suffered only their second defeat in seven league games and missed out on the chance to close the gap on the play-offs to three points.
Last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by fellow Lancashire neighbours Bolton ended a five-game unbeaten run and saw Gary Bowyer’s men slip six points adrift of sixth-placed Wigan.
Bowyer reacted with five changes as David Dunn, with three goals in his previous three outings against Burnley, and influential captain Grant Hanley, who withdrew from the Scotland squad to face Poland in midweek, returned from injury.
With Matt Kilgallon ruled out with a groin problem, England Under-21 international Michael Keane made his debut after signing on loan from Manchester United while Corry Evans was passed fit for his first start since October.
On-loan Leeds forward Luke Varney made his home debut and Liam Feeney, the 27-year-old who was at Bolton earlier in the campaign, was among the substitutes after joining from Millwall until the rest of the season on Friday.
Morale was high in the Burnley camp after back-to-back victories over promotion rivals Derby and Nottingham Forest.
Former Watford boss Dyche, 42, fielded the same starting line-up for the eighth successive game with five starters maintaining their ever-present records this term.
The 102nd competitive meeting between the sides was merely 30 seconds old before being abruptly halted in bizarre circumstances as the chicken, a signature of the protests against Blackburn owners the Venkys, made a re-appearance.
Prompting a stoppage of over a minute, it was eventually chased off the pitch by stewards and play was able to resume against the backdrop of a vibrant atmosphere.
Rovers made a bright start with Rhodes cushioning a header towards goal from a Varney cross which Tom Heaton parried away and gathered at the second attempt.
But the Clarets thought they had taken the lead in the seventh minute when Sam Vokes slid in to turn home a scuffed effort from Scott Arfield although the flag was raised for a tight offside decision.
The spectacle opened up with Burnley gradually gaining a foothold, settling into their passing rhythm and applying pressure on the Rovers defence.
Kieran Trippier supplied two delicious crosses, one flashed off target by top scorer Ings before Arfield, with five league goals this term, pulled away at the back post to loop a header onto the roof of the net.
At the other end, Varney curled off target from the edge of the box after cutting inside of Michael Duff – making his seventh east Lancashire derby appearance.
Rhodes then found space in between the lines but struck tamely at keeper Heaton with Shackell in close proximity before lashing another effort wide following Duff’s poor clearance.
The Scotland international had gone eight appearances without scoring, the worst run of his career, and having given the Clarets several warning signs, he eventually punished them to end his long goal drought with a moment of real quality.
The 23-year-old controlled Jason Lowe’s cross before shifting away from Shackell and firing superbly into the bottom left-hand corner.
His 17th league goal of the season gave Rovers the crucial breakthrough on 24 minutes but with confidence brimming in the home camp, the Clarets did not lie down.
The visitors, who taunted their 20-point gap over their rivals with a private aircraft message flying over the stadium, responded by penning Blackburn back into their own half with Rovers forced to retreat deeper to protect their slender lead.
The hosts battled well to frustrate their counterparts throughout an evenly-contested first period but almost gifted Burnley an equaliser six minutes before the break.
A poor Craig Conway back-pass presented Ings with a clean run at goal but the striker, without a goal in his previous four appearances, was denied by Paul Robinson before the rebound was miscued wide.
Rovers could have established a two-goal cushion going into the dressing room had Ben Mee not been in the right place to clear a flicked effort from Lowe off the line.
Inevitably, Burnley came out all guns blazing in the second half with a greater level of urgency and saw their half-hearted cries for a penalty waved away.
Ings latched onto a lofted Kightly pass and went down when tussling with Michael Keane but Premier League official Mike Dean, in charge of his third East Lancashire derby, ignored the claims.
The Clarets’ top scorer was causing problems for Keane and Rovers skipper Hanley and had another effort deflected into the gloves of Robinson.
But with both sides committed to full-blooded attack, Rovers almost gave themselves clear daylight in the 55th minute.
Former Rovers loanee David Jones was dispossessed by derby veteran Dunn, who slipped in Rhodes and the former Huddersfield frontman hit the base of the left-hand post with a low shot from the edge of the box.
Dyche introduced Ashley Barnes and Ross Wallace in place of Vokes and Kightly midway through the half as the Clarets continued to rally with Rovers adopting an attacking approach as the best form of defence.
Dunn made way for the arrival of debutant Feeney 20 minutes from time and the on-loan Millwall midfielder made his presence felt immediately, picking up a yellow card for a high challenge on Marney which could have resulted in red.
Fourth official Phil Dowd acted as peacemaker to separate the two managers amid a minor fracare in the technical area but it was Dyche who was celebrating as Burnley drew level on 73 minutes.
Wallace sent a teasing free-kick into the penalty area and skipper Shackell – who scored at Ewood Park 12 months ago – climbed bravely above Robinson in the six-yard box to head home his second league goal of the season.
And as Burnley cranked up the intensity, the dramatic turnaround was complete six minutes later.
Barnes’s deep centre was insufficiently cleared by Hanley and Wallace poked the ball into the path of Ings, who calmly slotted home from 12 yards via a clip of the keeper’s heels.
Bowyer immediately sent on French forward Rudy Gestede, a starter in the previous seven league games, as Varney was withdrawn.
Northern Ireland international Evans fired waywardly over the top from Conway’s lay-off and Lowe produced a fine tip-over from Heaton with a fizzing long-range drive.
Gestede twice headed into the midriff of the keeper and Hanley pulled a shot wide on the turn during four minutes of stoppage time as Rovers fought for an equaliser.
But the hosts were resigned to their fate as Burnley’s agonising wait for derby glory finally came to an end to the delight of their ecstatic 4,500 strong away support.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): 1 Robinson, 27 Henley, 5 Hanley (C), 16 Keane, 3 Spurr, 32 Conway, 6 Lowe, 29 Evans, 15 Varney (Gestede 81), 8 Dunn (Feeney 71), 11 Rhodes.
Subs not used: 13 Eastwood (GK), 2 Kane, 14 Marcus Olsson, 17 Williamson, 19 Taylor.
Booked: Varney (55), Feeney (71)
Goals: Rhodes (24)
Burnley (4-4-2): 1 Heaton, 2 Trippier, 4 Duff, 5 Shackell (C), 6 Mee, 19 Kightly (Wallace 68), 8 Marney, 14 Jones, 37 Arfield, 9 Vokes (Barnes 68), 10 Ings.
Subs not used: 12 Cisak (GK), 15 Edgar, 28 Long, 11 Stanislas, 26 Treacy.
Booked: Arfield (74)
Goals: Shackell (73), Ings (79)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral) – 9/10