Sheffield United leapfrogged Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to go sixth in the Premier League table with a narrow 1-0 win over rock-bottom Norwich City.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke kept faith in the side that beat Leicester City in their last league outing, naming an unchanged starting eleven. The Blades made one change from the side that faced Brighton & Hove Albion, drafting in John Lundstram to replace January arrival Sander Berge.
It was the hosts that started on the front foot, testing a nervy Norwich side with a series of driven crosses that were hacked clear.
Oli McBurnie caught the first glimpse of goal, drawing an impressive save from Tim Krul with a powerful header.
After a slow start, the visitors grabbed a foothold in the game and began to ask questions of the Blades’ backline. After Emiliano Buendia’s audacious effort was deflected behind for a corner, the resulting delivery found Teemu Pukki, who rattled the post with a close-range effort.
Sheffield United threatened next, coming close to breaking the deadlock when Jack O’Connell’s low drive from inside the six-yard box was turned behind.
As momentum shifted back in favour of the Blades, they opened the scoring through captain Billy Sharp with ten minutes of the first-half remaining. John Lundstram provided a teasing cross from the right, which found the on-rushing Sharp and the forward made no mistake in heading beyond Krul’s reach.
Buoyed by their breakthrough, the hosts went close again as Lundstram’s speculative shot flew narrowly wide.
The early stages of the second-half yielded little in the way of clear-cut opportunities, and Norwich substitute Josip Drmic squandered his first chance when he headed well wide from a deep cross.
Chris Basham was unlucky not to double the home advantage soon after, teeing himself up with a deft flick over the head of his marker but failing to keep his shot under the crossbar.
Norwich’s best opportunity of the afternoon came with eleven minutes remaining on the clock, when a goalmouth scramble ensued inside Sheffield United’s box. The desperate efforts of Dean Henderson and David McGoldrick, however, were enough to keep the ball out.
The hosts received another wake-up call shortly after, when Jamal Lewis found himself in acres of space inside the box but was thwarted by an alert Henderson.
The Blades managed to hold on despite a late Norwich rally, securing back-to-back wins after their midweek FA Cup triumph against Reading.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was understandably upbeat following the win. He said:
“When questions were asked of us in our box, we answered them, and obviously the one great bit of quality from Lunny (John Lundstram) to Bill (Billy Sharp) has decided the game.
“The connection today between the supporters and the players was immense”.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke, on the other hand, was left to rue missed opportunities:
“We are disappointed here because we wanted to get this one point today in order to keep our unbeaten run going.
“I would say there were two or three situations today where we must score”.
FT: Sheffield United 1-0 Norwich City
Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Stevens (Osborn 61’), Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, McBurnie (Berge 90’), Sharp (c) (McGoldrick 71’).
Unused substitutes: Jagielka, Verrips, Mousset, Retsos.
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Hanley (c), Lewis, McLean, Tettey (Vrcanic 66’), Cantwell (Drmic 45’), Buendia, Duda (Idah 87’), Pukki.
Unused substitutes: Zimmermann, Rupp, Stiepermann, McGovern.
Referee: Simon Hooper