Sheffield United took just their fourth Premier League win of the season to shatter Aston Villa’s European hopes as David McGoldrick’s strike secured a 1-0 victory at Bramall Lane.
McGoldrick put the Blades in front after 31 minutes when he returned home the cross from George Baldock, sticking his leg out to deflect the ball into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men after the VAR overhaul in the second half as Phil Jagielka’s challenge on Anwar El Ghazi as the last defender was upgraded to a red card by referee Rob Jones.
But Chris Wilder’s men kept three rare points to close the gap on 17th-ranked Newcastle to 12 points with 14 games to go. Villa remains in ninth place with 39 points after 25 games.
Sheff Utd: Ramsdale (8), Baldock (7), Stevens (7), Bryan (7), Ampadu (7), Jagielka (6), Fleck (8), Lundstram (6), Norwood (7), Brewster (6), McGoldrick (7 years old).
Submarines: McBurnie (n / a), Osborn (6), Burke (5).
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Elmohamady (6), Targett (5), Mings (6), Konsa (6), Nakamba (5), Ramsey (5), McGinn (6), El Ghazi (7), Traoré (7) , Watkins (7).
Submarines: Barkley (6), Sanson (5), Davis (n / a).
Man of the match: Aaron Ramsdale.
Too little, too late for Blades?
Wilder, whose side ended a four-game losing streak, admitted this week he was unsure whether he will be Sheffield United coach next season, but his side produced a courageous display, absorbing pressure early.
Aston Villa, in Jack Grealish’s continued absence, were chasing back-to-back wins for the first time since Boxing Day – and they got the first chance of the game as Ollie Watkins headed down John McGinn’s path but the midfield shot across the goal. did not disturb Aaron Ramsdale.
But Ramsdale was forced into action after 19 minutes when Anwar El Ghazi slid Watkins into space in the left channel and his weak training was parried by the former Bournemouth goalkeeper. Watkins wanted a penalty moments later when he was sandwiched in the box by Kean Bryan and Jagielka, but referee Jones dismissed his protests.
After defending resolutely, the hosts took the lead just after the half hour mark. McGoldrick started and finished the move as his sweep pass found Baldock to the right. After the wing was cut off on the inside, his effort was adrift before McGoldrick reached out with a leg to lift the ball into the net via the underside of the bar.
It was the 33-year-old’s sixth goal in 16 Premier League starts this season and it was only the third time in 14 home games this season that Sheffield United had opened the scoring – but they were almost immediately caught.
Bertrand Traoré was found by Ahmed Elmohamady, and the striker escaped Oliver Norwood, Jagielka and Bryan with his weaving stroke before completing his shot just off the post.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder made just one change to the squad which were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool last time as Rhian Brewster started in place of Oliver McBurnie, who was fell on the substitutes bench.
Aston Villa was once again without Jack Grealish. Dean Smith named the same starting XI that beat Leeds 1-0, and in fact it was exactly the same team of the day.
It was a frustrating 45-minute opener for Villa, who faced the challenge of improving a single-point collecting record after conceding the first goal of the season.
The visitors hadn’t returned to win a Premier League game since January last season against Watford, but they came within inches of an equalizer nine minutes after the restart when Watkins directed El Ghazi’s cross to the woodwork .
A minute later, the game’s major flash point came as Jagielka was initially shown in yellow for taking down El Ghazi in the counterattack. But VAR Graham Scott advised Jones to review the incident via a pitchside monitor, and the match official put the card red, believing Jagielka to be the last defender.
Nick Wright of Sky Sports said: “Another match, another example of VAR controversy. Jagielka was awkward but El Ghazi was really far away? Or did one of Jagielka’s teammates come back and catch him? There will be a lot of divergent views on this one. “
Villa failed to make his power play count, as Wilder immediately fell back to four backs.
The odds were few and far between, but Sheffield United resisted. El Ghazi’s cross was returned on goal by Traore for McGinn to shoot for the first time, but Ethan Ampadu was in the right place to block.
Villa continued to press against the Blades’ disciplined backline, but when Ezri Konsa’s low shot was brilliantly held back by Ramsdale in the last minute of normal time, the lower Premier League side came out on top. that his efforts deserved.
Sheffield United welcome Southampton to the Premier League on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick off is at 3 p.m. Aston Villa will also appear in front of the Sky Sports cameras then as they greet the wolves on Saturday night football at 5:30 p.m.