Sheffield United bowed out of the Premier League on a winning note as David McGoldrick sealed a 1-0 final-day victory over Burnley in front of returning fans at Bramall Lane.
The veteran Blades striker scored a fine ninth goal of the season from distance midway through the first half (24) and proved to be a fitting matchwinner as the long-relegated hosts ended a torturous campaign on a relative high.
McGoldrick, the free transfer serenaded by supporters throughout, had chances to further boost his tally, while Chris Basham hit the goalframe from close-range, but one goal was enough to see the hosts avoid further ignominy - no side had lost 30 games in a Premier League season - and their focus must now sharpen on a managerial appointment for a Championship charge.
Burnley, secure for a sixth straight season, were lacklustre for long periods and end the campaign with a third straight defeat but more, more crucially, fresh concern for England goalkeeper Nick Pope, whom Sean Dyche confirmed will need knee surgery that appears to put his Euro 2020 chances in jeopardy.
Sheff Utd: Ramsdale (7), Baldock (6), Basham (7), Egan (8), Robinson (8), Stevens (7); Osborn (7), Norwood (6), Fleck (6), McGoldrick (8), Jebbison (7).
Subs: Brewster (7), Jagielka (6).
Burnley: Norris (6), Lowton (6), Tarkowski (7), Dunne (6), Taylor (6), Brownhill (6), Cork (6), Gudmundsson (7), Westwood (6), McNeil (6), Wood (6).
Subs: Vydra (6), Rodriguez (6), Barnes (N/A)
Man of the Match: Jack Robinson
How Blades bid farewell with win
The scoreline had been the same 442 days ago but how different the story, Billy Sharp then sealing a 1-0 win over Norwich that had maintained an unthinkable bid for European football. How they have missed a crowd that cajoled and emboldened; how they have struggled shorn of that deep connection as well as from their injuries and their frailties.
The Greasy Butty Song rang joyfully again from throats in the Bramall Lane Kop, supporters reunited with their matchday repertoire including songs to salute former boss Chris Wilder following his acrimonious departure in March and, poignantly, applause in tribute to legendary late full-back Len Badger.
- Sheff Utd made one change, George Baldock replacing Jayden Bogle. Young striker William Osula was named on the bench.
- Burnley also made one change, Jimmy Dunne in for Ben Mee in the centre of defence. Nick Pope was absent once again, with Will Norris continuing in goal.
On the pitch, Johann Berg Gudmundsson took early aim, firing straight at Ramsdale but a series of Burnley corners came and went and John Egan skilfully snuffed out the aerial threat of Chris Wood in a scrappy opening period.
McGoldrick had been busy without connecting with several promising Ben Osborn crosses but the Players' Player of the Season at Bramall Lane crafted the opener himself shortly before the hour mark, collecting Enda Stevens' crisp pass, dropping a shoulder to cut inside and then beating Will Norris with a curling shot.
Burnley offered little in reply and Basham, who would later sport a black head bandage after clashing with Ramsdale, came close to a second goal when he thumped a fierce shot against a post following a corner.
McGoldrick should have scored a second shortly after the interval but the ball got stuck under his feet inside the penalty area and he looped a header over the crossbar shortly afterwards.
Club-record signing Rhian Brewster's wait for his first Blades goal will extend into next season as Norris got down well to smother his low shot from 20 yards but a legitimate lunge to regain possession close to the Kop drew an admiring roar, the youngster buoyed by his first taste of the Blades' support.
The hosts survived some late pressure, the robust Jack Robinson clearing the ball from just in front of his own goal line with Wood lurking, but the Blades held on for a rare but deserved victory on their top-flight farewell, the time now for clarity at the top ahead of a summer rebuild at the end of an era.
What the managers said...
Sheffield United interim boss Paul Heckingbottom: "Good win, good performance, delighted for the fans and the players. I felt we deserved it but you have to earn it and we did. We were a threat on the counter and wed defended our box very well."
On his future: "No, [I've heard] nothing. I'm expecting to get my feet up and chill out. It's really important to make an appointment; players, staff need talking to. It's really important the decision is made quickly.
"Whoever is in charge is going to take over a good, hungry group. Yes, they'll need driving but there's certainly enough quality."
Burnley boss Sean Dyche: "We have petered out after the Fulham game and we have missed two key players
again today in Popey and Ben Mee. But I can't be too hard on the players as they have put in a lot of effort
and given everything and we have just lacked a bit of edge recently.
"These players give a lot to the cause and the side has been very stretched for much of the season as we have had so many injuries with such a small squad. But we still have 39 points which is not to be scoffed at in the Premier League."
On Nick Pope: "He needs [the surgery]. It's a minor cartilage situation. He felt a click in his knee. "It's quite a simple decision but a tough decision because we don't know how long it will take [his recovery]."
Pushed on whether Pope would likely be fit for the Euros, Dyche said: "I don't know, we'll have to see."
- Sheffield United won three of their final six league matches this season (L3), while each of their last four wins in the competition came via a 1-0 scoreline.
- Burnley have won just one of their last 19 away league games against Sheffield United (D5 L13), winning 3-2 in a Championship match in December 2008.
- Burnley have now lost final their final league game of the season in each of the last five campaigns.
- No Sheffield United player has more than two Premier League assists this season (John Lundstram, John Fleck and George Baldock all on two) - in the history of the Premier League, only one other team has gone through a season without a player reaching at least 3+ assists, with Charlton Athletic in 1998-99 having five players on a high of two (Mark Kinsella, Steve Jones, Danny Mills, Richard Rufus & Eddie Youds).
- David McGoldrick's winner for Sheffield United was the 1,000th goal scored in the Premier League this season.
What's next? Euros, transfer window, 2021/22 key dates
Euro 2020 kicks off on Friday June 11 - just 19 days after the conclusion of the 2020/21 Premier League season - and runs until Sunday July 11.
The 2021/22 Premier League campaign will start for Burnley on the weekend of Saturday August 14 - 34 days after that Euro 2020 final at Wembley.
Clubs will be able to start planning for the new term when the top-flight fixtures are released at 9am on Wednesday, June 16 but transfer business can start in earnest before then, with the summer transfer window opening on Wednesday June 9.
- 2021/22 season - all the key dates
- 2021/22 fixture release dates
- Summer transfer window 2021 - what you need to know
- Premier League kits for 2021/22
- Euro 2020 - full fixtures and schedule
The 2021/22 Championship season for Sheffield United begins a week before the top-flight one on the weekend of Saturday August 7. All Sky Bet EFL fixtures will be announced at 9am on Thursday June 24.