Sheffield United 4-5 Fulham: Cottagers edge nine-goal thriller
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 21/11/17 10:53pm
Ryan Sessegnon and Leon Clarke both scored hat-tricks as Fulham beat Sheffield United 5-4 at Bramall Lane to end a six-game drought and stop the Blades going top of the Sky Bet Championship.
Sessegnon's treble, in addition to two goals from Sheyi Ojo, had put the Cottagers in a seemingly commanding position at 5-2 up before Clarke completed his second successive hat-trick at Bramall Lane - after Samir Carruthers had also scored - to threaten the comeback. But Fulham held on to record their first win since the end of September and inflict just a third home league defeat of 2017 on the Blades.
Aged only 17, Sessegnon's star continues to rise after his heroics for England U19s in the summer, while Clarke took his tally to 12 goals in 10 games.
The 32-year-old needed only five minutes to continue his impressive run of form. The striker showed a predator's instinct to tuck home the rebound from close range after John Fleck's 20-yard shot was sloppily spilled by Fulham goalkeeper David Button.
United continued to attack with more vigour but Fulham turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes on the half-hour. They were gifted an equaliser as Tottenham loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers, acting as last man, missed his kick, allowing Ojo to race through and slot home.
Then in the 30th minute, Sessegnon was given time to venture forward and he impressively curled into the bottom corner from 20 yards. The lead lasted only eight minutes, though, as Clarke banged in his sixth goal in just 76 minutes of action at Bramall Lane to make it 2-2, drilling through the legs of Button from an acute angle.
A crazy first half had one more goal in it as Fulham went back in front when Sessegnon converted Ojo's brilliant cross from the right in the 42nd minute.
Unsurprisingly, the second half failed to live up to 45 minutes that preceded it, until Fulham looking like running away with in the final 25 minutes.
With the hosts pushing for a leveller, Fulham found space on the break made it 4-2 as Aboubakar Kamara found Ojo, whose low shot was deflected into the corner and then Sessegnon flashed one across goal to complete his hat-trick.
It looked like game over, but the Blades were not going down without a fight and after Carruthers saw an effort deflected past Button, Clarke ensured it would be a fight for the matchball when he headed home Billy Sharp's cross.
United could not scramble a leveller and Fulham were left to celebrate a breathless win which eases the pressure on boss Slavisa Jokanovic.
Chris Wilder: "It's difficult to make sense of it. To concede five at home, you are not going to give yourself a fantastic chance. I was proud of the players for the way we went for it. I don't want my team to go out the back door - it's happened too many times over the last few years. It's been too easy for teams to win here.
"Whatever team gets a result here this year they will have to go through the mill, they will have to make sure they earn it. Fulham earned it today, though I don't think they cut us open. The plus points are that the players went right to the end and asked the question of a talented Fulham side."
Slavisa Jokanovic: "It's always the same question - Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. Ryan is growing up in the right direction, he is a young player with a clear head, he wants to improve and learn. He wants to be better in the future. We will try and support him, but he had the support of his team-mates today."
"It was a crazy game, it is great entertainment for the supporters, it is less for us. At the end of the day, it is a victory. We have to be satisfied with three points and we go forward."