Sheffield United moved up to fifth in the Premier League after fighting back to earn a dramatic win over Bournemouth in blustery conditions at Bramall Lane.
The Cherries took a deserved lead when Callum Wilson reacted quickest and swept home the rebound after Harry Wilson’s effort had been blocked.
The hosts responded well and Billy Sharp scored from close range in first-half injury time after a sustained spell of pressure.
With seven minutes left John Lundstram collected a pass from fellow substitute Lys Mousset and, after an excellent first touch, steered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale for a late winner.
A lot of credit for the victory must also go to Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who made a superb save from Ryan Fraser when the score was 1-1.
The victory takes Sheffield United, who won promotion from the Championship last season and have never played in major European competition, above Tottenham and only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in a Champions League spot.
On Wednesday, the Met Office designated the approaching weather front Storm Ciara and serious doubts remained whether the game would go ahead.
Sunday’s other Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham was called off, as were all the games in the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, while top-flight encounters in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany were also cancelled.
A downpour, along with winds of more than 50mph at Bramall Lane two hours before kick-off, raised doubts about whether the match would go ahead as the storm hit Sheffield hard.
But the rain eased off, it was even sunny for a brief period in the first half and the two sides produced a thrilling match.
Bournemouth’s 13th-minute lead did not come as a surprise but from then on they struggled to impose themselves on the match as the Blades produced a spirited performance in front of a passionate home support.
Jack O’Connell headed over, Oli McBurnie has an effort well held, Ollie Norwood had a chance blocked and McBurnie forced a fine one-handed save from Ramsdale.
But the away goalkeeper was beaten in first-half injury time as Sharp, just as he had done in the 1-1 draw at Vitality Stadium in the first game of the season, made it level.
The Blades continued to impress after the break and Sharp had a shot saved by Ramsdale, Sander Berge glanced a header wide before Mousset, against his former club, set up Lundstram for the winning goal.
Difficult run-in for Cherries
Bournemouth had won their past two league matches, but stay 16th and are now only two points clear of the relegation zone having played a game more than the teams below them.
Their failure to pick up even a point after scoring first will be a huge frustration for Eddie Howe, whose side still have eight of the top nine sides to play before the end of the season as they battle to stay in the Premier League for a sixth successive term.
“We needed to come here and get something, that’s my feeling from today, especially with all the good work we put into the match,” said Howe.
“We cannot waste games, it’s going to be tight at the bottom. We’re running out of moments, we need points.”
Harry Wilson should have hit the target with a diving header early on and Callum Wilson hooked an effort wide, before the latter grabbed his second goal in four matches and eighth of the season.
Within a minute, Philip Billing had a chance to double the lead but missed the ball with an attempted volley.
But from then on chances were limited, although Nathan Ake hooked an effort just wide in the second half, before Fraser was denied by Henderson with the hosts getting their winner soon after.
A wild Wilder moment
There was a bizarre moment in the second half with the score at 1-1 as Bournemouth midfielder Andrew Surman and Sheffield United boss Wilder started pushing each other, before a number of players from both sides got involved and referee Jon Moss showed yellow cards to Surman and Wilder.
“Their player thought I had the ball behind my back [to stop a quick throw-in], but I didn’t,” said Wilder.
“I’m still coming to terms with this division, it’s a passionate game, I’m a passionate manager and I have no issue with Eddie [Howe].
“It calmed down after that but I want to win, Andrew Surman wants to win, they want the result for their team and I do for mine.
“I would be disappointed if players did not show their emotions in a game.”
Man of the match – Billy Sharp (Sheffield United)
Starting a Premier League match for only the fourth time this season, Sharp was a constant handful for the Bournemouth defence.
His valuable goal just before half-time changed the course of the game and he nearly had another early in the second half. When he was substituted he received a deserved standing ovation from the home fans.
‘All our players have something to prove’ – what they said
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, speaking to Match of the Day: “It was a tight game, a tough game. You wouldn’t believe we were at the wrong end of the table early in the game. I was disappointed that we weren’t able to recover after they equalised.
“We had a couple of moments but the second goal was a killer blow.
“You are used to these conditions. The pitch played well but we lost momentum as the game went on.”
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: “We were hanging on at times. We grew into the game and I felt a goal was coming. I was delighted to go into the break on level terms.
“We try to build momentum and create pressure. They controlled the game early on but our reaction was great. We really went for it in the second half and the belief the boys have is amazing.
“I’m sure when we were coming off our fans were singing that we’re safe. We’re not there yet but there’s no let-up from us. There are no comfortable footballers in our changing room – they all have something to prove.
“I’m a bit controversial in that I’d want to carry on – I’d like it if we had a game next week. But we’ll come back refreshed for the next part of the season.”
Super subs – the stats
- Sheffield United have won six of their last seven Premier League games against teams starting the day in the bottom half of the league (D1).
- Bournemouth have lost seven of their last eight Premier League away games (W1), losing each of the last four in a row.
- Sheffield United have scored six Premier League goals via substitutes this season – more than any other club; two of those have come against Bournemouth (Billy Sharp in August, John Lundstram today).
- Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has now scored in two of his last three Premier League appearances (two goals), having failed to find the net in 15 consecutive appearances prior to this.
- Bournemouth’s Wilson is one of only seven English players to have scored 40 Premier League goals since August 2015, the month he made his debut in the competition.
- There were 16 British players in the starting XI for this match, the most in a Premier League game since February 2019 (Burnley vs Southampton, also 16).
- Since August 2016 when Chris Wilder took charge of the club, Sharp has scored 68 league goals for Sheffield United – 39 more than any other player in this time.
Sheffield United are scheduled to only play one more match this month and that comes on Saturday, 22 February, again at Bramall Lane, with Brighton the visitors (15:00 GMT). The Blades are then due to have a week off as their scheduled game at Aston Villa will have to be rearranged because Villa face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
For Bournemouth, Howe takes on his former side Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday, 22 February (15:00) and seven days later the Cherries entertain Chelsea, who they beat 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in December (15:00).