Sheff Utd 0 Aston Villa 5: Unai Emery’s side bounce back with first-half demolition to leave Blades rooted to bottom

RAMPANT Aston Villa gave Chris Wilder and Sheffield United a knuckle sandwich.

And there was no blaming the match officials this time.

Aston Villa tore Sheffield United apart


Aston Villa tore Sheffield United apartCredit: Getty
Sheffield United are rock bottom of the Premier League table


Sheffield United are rock bottom of the Premier League tableCredit: Rex

Wilder was furious that a linesman nibbled on a bread-based snack while he was complaining to referee Tony Harrington after the 3-2 midweek defeat at Crystal Palace.

But the only people the Blades boss should be accusing of disrespect after this horror show are his wretched team.

And the only thing that was ridiculous – the word Wilder used of Harrington’s performance – was the defending of a side that is sleepwalking back into the Championship.

It’s true that you probably shouldn’t tell Wilder that Villa had won their previous nine games when referee Paul Tierney had been in charge.

But not even a match official totally biased in United’s favour could have stopped Unai Emery’s vibrant visitors from cutting through the Blades like a knife through a greasy chip butty.

Some of the home fans who had sung that club anthem with gusto before the game started streaming out of the famous old ground just after the half-hour mark.

By then John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans – ably assisted by Douglas Luiz – had scored four goals between them in 18 first-half minutes.

United couldn’t even manage a second-half fightback, conceding again to Alex Moreno within 85 seconds of the restart.


Sheffield United fans headed for the exits early


Sheffield United fans headed for the exits earlyCredit: AP
Ollie Watkins starred for Villa


Ollie Watkins starred for VillaCredit: Getty


Take nothing away from Villa.

Emery’s men bounced back in style from the disappointment of losing their almost year-long unbeaten home record in the league, in the 1-3 defeat by Newcastle.

Yet how easy Sheffield United made it for them.

After the Palace defeat, Wilder praised the effort of his side.

But there was no positive to take from this, no crumb of comfort, no excuse for the first-half lack of quality and fight.

Wilder moaned on Tuesday that every 50-50 decision went against his side. His players should try winning a few more 50-50 balls.

It’s almost certainly too late, though.

The Blades have only 10 points, putting them 10 adrift of safety, and you doubt they will manage 10 more before the end of the season.

After an early half-chance for Blades forward Ben Brereton Diaz, that familiar sinking feeling soon returned to Bramall Lane.

Luiz had too much time to pick his pass for Watkins, who beat Wes Foderingham with a cute dink but not the home ‘keeper’s right-hand post. McGinn followed up to score, with Blades captain Anel Ahmedhodzic stranded in the back of the net.

An even better Luiz-Watkins double act brought the second goal within four minutes.

The Brazilian curled a delicious pass with the outside of his right foot that was tantalisingly out of reach of the retreating Ahmedhodzic.

Watkins hit the ball firmly across Foderingham into the net.

United’s heads were gone, and so was the game, four minutes later.

Tielemans easily won a header and Watkins played it into Bailey’s path. Rhys Norrington-Davies declined to put in a challenge, so the Jamaican cut inside and bent a lovely finish into the far corner.

New Blades arrival Mason Holgate headed a free kick wide, but moments later it was nearly four as Villa right back Ezri Konsa forced Foderingham into a smothering block.

It soon WAS four, anyway. Tielemans had just seen an effort headed brilliantly off the line by Vini Souza, but after the resulting corner the Belgian smashed a shot in off the crossbar.

Whatever Wilder said at half-time – play for pride, at least – his players weren’t listening.

All too soon Watkins crossed for an unmarked Moreno to volley the fifth.

Auston Trusty stopped Konsa making it six, then Foderingham saved from Moussa Diaby.

Watkins headed off the line and Martinez made a double save to deny the Blades even a consolation. Then VAR did the same by ruling out Souza’s stoppage-time goal for offside in the build-up.

There were no sarnies for tea in Sheffield, just humble pie.



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