Sheffield United continued their push for European qualification as they moved into the Premier League’s top six with a convincing win over in-form Chelsea at Bramall Lane.
David McGoldrick’s first Premier League goal opened the scoring, pouncing after Kepa Arrizabalaga had saved brilliantly from a deflected Oli McBurnie shot in the 18th minute.
Chelsea’s defence was shaky throughout and they were ruthlessly punished just 15 minutes later when Enda Stevens crossed and McBurnie was left completely unmarked in the six-yard box to power home a simple header.
The damage was completed when McGoldrick capitalised on a dreadful defensive mix-up to plunder his second midway through the second half.
The visitors had scored the most number of away goals in the Premier League before this match, including three at Crystal Palace in midweek, but never looked like adding to their tally.
Chris Wilder has drawn many plaudits this season for Sheffield United’s organisation and team ethic, their desire to keep the ball out of their net a telling contrast to the fragility of their illustrious visitors.
If Leicester City and Manchester United win their game-in-hand, against Bournemouth and Southampton respectively, Champions-League Chelsea could find themselves in fifth when next in action against Norwich on Tuesday.
Reward for McGoldrick
David McGoldrick was named Player of the Year for Sheffield United as he scored 15 times in their successful promotion campaign last season but has had no luck in front of goal in the Premier League.
He will though be a very popular goalscorer among Blades fans who appreciate the hunger and work ethic he brings to every performance.
And, despite that lack of goals, his sharpness was in evidence when he pounced midway through the first half.
Mason Mount lost the ball for Chelsea, Kepa somehow kept out Oli McBurnie’s deflected volley but McGoldrick followed up to lash home the opening goal.
He then got a well-deserved second with 15 minutes to go as his driving run created an opening and he was in the right place to bury the loose ball beyond Kepa.
His strike partner McBurnie had scored Sheffield United’s second with a powerful header before half time and substitute Lys Mousset should have made it four when he raced clear but clipped past the post.
This was Sheffield United’s 10th home win of an outstanding season and Chris Wilder’s side are a good bet to secure European football at Bramall Lane for the first time in their 130-year history.
More to follow.
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