15 March 2023

Sheffield United keep up promotion push with comeback win at Sunderland

15 March 2023

Sheffield United returned to winning ways by claiming a much-needed 2-1 Championship comeback victory at Sunderland in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

The Blades – in second – are now six points clear of third-placed Middlesbrough ahead of this Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Blackburn.

Sunderland, who had hoped to close the gap on the play-off places, had taken the lead when French midfielder Edouard Michut scored his first goal in English football after half-an-hour.

But after James McAtee had levelled near the end of the first half, Sheffield United hit a winner when Tommy Doyle’s free-kick from the left bounced straight in just after the hour.

Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele was pictured with Sunderland owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus at the Stadium of Light to watch the match.

Sheffield United knew this was not going to be an easy task. Sunderland – unchanged from winning at Norwich last time out – have impressed against most teams this season and still have a chance of a top-six spot.

But Paul Heckingbottom’s visitors, fielding four changes to the side that lost at home to Luton, were quick out of the blocks without finding the net.

McAtee, one of those changes, had a goal-bound effort blocked by Dan Ballard and – from the resulting corner – Anel Ahmedhodzic headed the ball wide before an even better chance.

Moments after Trai Hume had forced an early save out of Wes Foderingham, following a clever Patrick Roberts backheel, Sheffield United went on the offensive again.

Striker Daniel Jebbison was first to go close when he cut inside his man and his shot from the edge of the area forced goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to get down low and turn the ball away confidently.

Jebbison was lucky to escape injury soon after when Hume dived in recklessly near the touchline and took the man, completely missing the ball with a wild challenge on the forward, and was issued with a yellow rather than red card.

Less than four minutes later Sunderland went ahead. Abdoullah Ba’s pass picked out Michut just inside the area, the 20-year-old steadied himself before firing low and precisely inside the far corner.

There had been little goalmouth action after that until McAtee levelled in first-half stoppage-time. The midfielder opened his body and curled his effort inside the far corner after breaking into the area following a good George Baldock run.

The goalscorer almost created a second early in the second half. McAtee’s run and pass ended with Patterson having to dart from his line to make an excellent stop to deny Iliman Ndiaye’s low effort.

But Sheffield United were ahead just after the hour when Doyle’s free-kick from the left flank bounced straight into the far corner. There were claims for offside, but they were waved away because Sander Berge failed to get a touch.

That sparked Sunderland briefly to life. Foderingham denied Ba firstly and then Roberts struck the foot of the post with a low drive from just inside the box.

Sheffield United dealt with everything else that came their way to seal a win on Wearside.

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