Sheffield United did their absolute best to minimise the damage against Manchester City, and they very nearly came away with a point.
Just like in the FA Cup semi-final clash between the sides, the Blades defence stood resolute, until the referee gave the Citizens a penalty. However, Erling Haaland smacked the post with his effort, and it turned out to be a very frustrating day for the forward.
The Norwegian had eight attempts on Sunday, missing three big chances, one of which was the penalty. But, like all good strikers do, he shrugged off the misses and eventually found the back of the net.
Nevertheless, Paul Heckingbottom was impressed with how his defenders implemented the plan that they had worked on in training to stifle Haaland.
“I’m not going to tell you the plan because we’ll probably try and do it again next time. I thought the central defenders enjoyed that challenge, I thought Haaland enjoyed that challenge and got really wound up and was really pleased with his goal.
“He’s a big big threat. People do talk about his athleticism but I see that as one of his stand out qualities. He’s got a bit of everything that you have to deal with.” [BeanymanSports]
One person’s performance that did not please Heckingbottom however was the referee Jarred Gillett. The Australian referee appeared to give soft fouls for Manchester City, while Sheffield United had several potential fouls waved away.
Heckingbottom commented on the refereeing performance:
“I weren’t happy with the refereeing today. For us to get our first freekick of the game in the 56th minute is embarrassing. I’ve watched some of the decisions back and it’s really really poor. I’ve sent Macca in [to talk to the officials] so I don’t get into trouble.”
The Blades are still without a point on the board, but they have an excellent chance to claim a win when they host early relegation rivals Everton next Saturday.