Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Bournemouth 1-1 Sheffield United: Billy Sharp bundles home late on to rescue opening-day point
Chris Mepham on target for Bournemouth with first Cherries goal
Last Updated: 10/08/19 7:24pm
Billy Sharp's late equaliser ensured Sheffield United's Premier League return began unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.
Sharp showcased his predatory instinct off the bench to bundle home from a free-kick, netting his first Premier League goal at the age of 33, inside the last two minutes of a game from which the Blades had deserved at least a point.
Bournemouth had only managed a single shot on target before they took the lead shortly after the hour through Chris Mepham's close-range finish, and spent much of the game defending against the Premier League new boys.
- As it happened
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Bournemouth: Ramsdale (6), A Smith (6), Ake (6), Mepham (6), Cook (6), Rico (5), Billing (6), Lerma (6), Fraser (6), King (5), Wilson (5).
Subs: Solanke (n/a).
Sheffield United: Henderson (7), Baldock (7), Basham (6), Egan (6), O'Connell (6), Stevens (5), Norwood (6), Fleck (7), Lundstram (6), McGoldrick (6), Robinson (7).
Subs: McBurnie (6), Freeman (6), Sharp (7).
Man of the match: Callum Robinson
The Blades had shaded the chances before that opener, with Callum Robinson and David McGoldrick forcing smart saves out of Aaron Ramsdale, but it took a moment of magic from their captain - a boyhood Blade - in the final moments to secure a share of the spoils.
How the Blades blunted Bournemouth
United's dream Premier League return was so close to being just that in the opening minute when John Lundstram's ball caught Mepham cold and McGoldrick's first-time curler was kept out by a wonderful Aaron Ramsdale save.
The Blades, rather than Bournemouth, looked the team starting their fifth straight top-flight season, pinning the hosts' uncomfortable 3-5-2 back and playing most of their football in the opposition half.
The Cherries occasionally looked dangerous on the break but had more to worry about at their own end, with Callum Robinson forcing another smart stop from Ramsdale before the break.
- Bournemouth included new signing Phillip Billing in midfield as part of a 3-5-2
- Callum Robinson was Sheffield United's only debut starter
Little changed immediately following the restart even after some Eddie Howe intervention at the break, but a number of cheap free-kicks given away in the Blades half allowed Bournemouth to reclaim some territory. From one of these, Ryan Fraser delivery, they scrambled in the opener when Mepham poked home once Callum Wilson's opener had been kept out.
United huffed and puffed but came up against a Bournemouth side now content to hold what they had, and even the arrival of Sharp and Oliver McBurnie from the bench made little immediate difference.
But the captain found himself in exactly the right place when George Baldock's low cross from a free-kick resulted in pinball in the Bournemouth area, and he bundled in a late equaliser before celebrating the goal like a last-minute winner.
Man of the match - Callum Robinson
Robinson announced himself to Sheffield United with a performance akin to a wasp buzzing around the Bournemouth defence. With the ball he looked potent, twice forcing smart stops out of Ramsdale, and losing the ball less than anyone else on his side.
Without it he showed his work-rate too, winning back possession five times, and if anything may have to rein in his enthusiasm a little after giving away four fouls, the most of any player on the pitch.
- Bournemouth have lost just one of their 12 Premier League home games against promoted sides (W7 D4).
- Bournemouth have only won one of their five opening day games in the Premier League (D1 L3).
- Billy Sharp's goal came from his first ever shot in the Premier League, in what is his third appearance in the competition.
Bournemouth travel to Aston Villa next Saturday at 3pm, while Sheffield United host Crystal Palace live on Sky Sports next Sunday at 2pm.
Sheff Utd vs C Palace
August 18, 2019, 1:00pm