Sheffield United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Cameron Archer thundered home for Sheffield United's opener; Jean-Ricner Bellegarde's deflected goal equalised for Wolves in the 89th minute; Oliver Norwood fired home penalty after Fabio Silva penalised for foul on George Baldock
Saturday 4 November 2023 20:25, UK
Sheffield United secured their first Premier League win of the season in dramatic fashion as Oliver Norwood's last-gasp penalty snatched a 2-1 win against Wolves.
After a disjointed first-half performance, the Blades were much improved after the break and made their dominance count. Cameron Archer (72) thundered home a superb effort off the underside of the crossbar to see the hosts deservedly ahead.
But Wolves - who went into the game unbeaten in five Premier League matches - hit back in the 89th minute. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde's shot on the turn was deflected in and looked to condemn the Blades to another winless game.
But a dramatic six minutes of injury time saw VAR review two penalty decisions. The first - a Mario Lemina handball - was not given by the referee or VAR.
But the second, coming after Fabio Silva's challenge on George Baldock, was awarded in the dying moments by the referee. VAR reviewed it and did not overturn the on-field decision.
Former Premier League referee Mike Dean on Soccer Saturday:
“From a referee’s point of view, when you slow it down, Silva’s boot lands on the top of Baldock’s toes. It’s a soft penalty, but there’s contact.
“The referee has given the penalty so it’s not a wrong decision and VAR would not have overturned it.
“The more time I’ve had to look at it properly, his foot has landed on Baldock’s foot. Last week [when a penalty was given against Hwang], there was no contact. That’s more of a penalty than last week in my opinion.”
Sheffield United captain Norwood stepped up and hammered the spot kick home to register their first three points of the season. The Blades remain bottom of the table on goal difference, but they will hope the result boosts them heading into a busy November and December.
Wolves - who drop a place to 13th - will surely feel aggrieved as another VAR penalty decision goes against them. It comes after Gary O'Neil had jokingly warned referees to be "careful" refereeing Wolves after Anthony Taylor became the latest official to be dropped for poor decisions made against them in their draw against Newcastle last week.
"It's not a penalty," O'Neil told Sky Sports after the game. "I've spoken to the referee about it and I told him why it wasn't a penalty.
"He says there is contact. I think Fabio's shinpad probably grazes Baldock's calf. There's no way it's a penalty, but there's nothing else to discuss.
"We created some of our own problems in the second half. But we worked hard to get back into it and a terrible referring decision has cost us more points."
Wolves had the better of possession and chances in the first half. Wes Foderingham was called into a fine save in the 25th minute, sending Matheus Cunha's effort over the bar. Then, Rayan Ait-Nouri poked just wide, having collected a shanked Hwang Hee-Chan shot.
Sheffield United's half ended with yet another injury concern after Rhian Brewster was substituted with what looked to be a knee injury. He has only recently returned to action after a hamstring injury in October 2022 kept him out for a year.
He was replaced by James McAtee, who was one of the catalysts for a fine second half from Sheffield United. After mere minutes, Archer fired over from range. Jose Sa almost gifted the hosts an opportunity too with a poor back pass landing to Gustavo Hamer, but they could not make it count.
Sheffield United continued to pile on the pressure but were guilty of wasting good opportunities, particularly from set-pieces.
Sheffield United: Foderingham (6), Baldock (7), Trusty (7), Robinson (7), Bogle (7), Souza (6), Norwood (7), Hamer (7), Thomas (6), Brewster (5), Archer (7).
Subs: McAtee (8), Osborn (n/a).
Wolves: Sa (6), Kilman (6), Dawson (7), Gomes (6), Semedo (6), Lemina (6), Doyle (7), Ait Nouri (7), Cunha (7), Hwang (6), Kalajdzic (7).
Subs: Bellegarde (6), Traore (6), Silva (4).
Player of the match: James McAtee.
But a moment of fortune coupled with Archer's fine finish saw them ahead. A ricochet between McAtee and Toti saw the ball land kindly for the forward. He wasted no time in bursting into the box, with a thunderous finish hammering in off the underside of the crossbar.
Wolves hit back in the 89th minute which looked sure to decide the game. Sheffield United did not clear a floated ball into the area well enough, and it landed to Bellegarde. He took a touch and hit the ball on the turn, deflecting home for the equaliser.
35.7 per cent of Wolves’ Premier League goals this season have been scored by substitutes (5/14), the highest ratio in the division.
As six minutes of added time were shown, VAR made two interventions. The first looked at a Lemina handball after McAtee's attempted cross hit him. However, nothing was given.
Then, Silva's challenge on Baldock was looked at after referee Rob Jones had pointed to the spot. The forward - who was booked just 37 seconds after coming on as a substitute - caught Baldock enough for VAR to stick with the on-field decision.
Norwood them stepped up in the most pressurised of moments, hammering home a superb penalty to secure Sheffield United's first Premier League win of the season.
Wolves manager Gary O'Neil to Sky Sports:
"The talk with the lads after the game was about us in the second half not responding and making bad decisions with the ball. Sheffield United had come slightly more aggressive in the second half and we didn't make good decisions with that.
"We lose here together - that's not on Fabio. That's on me, the players, the staff, everyone. Fabio had a part to play in the penalty that wasn't a penalty and he was very upset about it. He's a young lad who has my full backing and support. We move on and make sure we do better next week.
"First half, we should have been clear. We created some big chances and didn't take them. There were some strange decisions in front of goal.
"The second half looked different and we never got to grips with it, which was disappointing because there was opportunities there for us that we didn't manage to find them. It's my job to improve that with the lads, the understanding of the difference in the first and second half and we get ready for Spurs next week."
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom to Sky Sports:
"I thought the performance was very good. In the first half, it was a little bit tame, both teams feeling each other out. In the second half, we were much more aggressive. We played with more energy, took risks and the wall back high and didn't let Wolves out of their half.
"They still defended well so chances were at a premium. It's a good and deserved win.
"We've been close many times so far, so it's a reward. But we're still in the same position. The message is still the same - you need cool heads in this situation. We know we're fighting against some really good teams, but we know we've been in games and could have won them like today.
"Our challenge is to make sure we're in the positions to win those games.
"With VAR now and the length of time that decision took, it does add pressure to the penalty taker. I thought our boys were calm and really composed about it.
"Looking back at it, there is contact. VAR is there to overturn decisions and if the referee hasn't given it, it's probably not given by VAR and vice versa.
"A big moment, composure from Ollie and a good win because it would have been harsh otherwise."
|Goals||Archer, Bellegarde, Norwood|
|Assists||McAtee, Hwang, Baldock.|
|Bonus points||Norwood, Archer (3), Bellegarde (1)|
Sheffield United travel to Brighton next up on November 12, kick-off 2pm. That's their last game before the international break, with their next match at home to Bournemouth on November 25, kick-off 3pm.
Wolves host Tottenham next Saturday in the lunch-time game at Molineux, kick-off 12.30pm. They are then live on Sky Sports after the international break when they travel to Fulham on November 27, kick-off 8pm.