Southampton won away against Sheffield United this afternoon, as Moussa Djenepo gave the Saints’ the lead in the second half, in what was overall a tightly contested game.
Southampton started out looking the better side, initially having most of the possession and getting closest to the Blades’ goal.
The first chance for the Saints’ came following a set piece routine. The ball was cleared by the Blades’ defence but Romeu sent it back in the box with a long ball which landed at the feet of Boufal, who took the shot and struck the Henderson’s left post.
Immediately on the counter, the Blades too came close to scoring, as McGoldrick was through on goal but his shot struck directly at the outrushing Angus Gunn.
A few minutes later, Baldock delivered a cross into the Saints’ penalty box which found the head of Fleck, but the header went over the bar.
It took about ten more minutes for the next big chance to come along, as Dean Henderson was forced to make an acrobatic save as Che Adams’ header from close range looked like it was sure to go in.
The Blades started coming into the game more and more and kept pressing the Southampton defence and won several set pieces outside their box. The most dangerous of those was a Norwood freekick that very nearly resulted in the first goal of the game, but McGoldrick’s couldn’t direct the ball into the net.
Near the end of the first half, Djenepo pushed through the Blades’ defence and managed to get all the way to the penalty box. As he had attracted most of the United defenders he passed it to Boufal who was completely free in the box and took the shot. However, the shot was weak and a fairly easy save for Henderson.
After an even first half that contained plenty of chances for both teams, it still stood nil-nil at the break.
As the second half got underway, it looked as if the Blades had taken the lead early on.
Norwood delivered a free kick into the Southampton penalty area, with John Egan attempting to go for it but just nearly missed it. However, Oliver McBurnie was able to latch onto it instead at the other end and slot it in the back of the net.
But just as the fans cheered in jubilation, it was announced that the goal had been disallowed, after it was ruled that Egan was offside and interfering with the flow of the game.
Southampton then took their turn attacking. Adams looked free on goal and had quite a lot of space, but his shot was saved, as Henderson dived down to clear it out.
Chris Wilder decided to make his first change of the game, as he brought on Billy Sharp for McBurnie in an attempt to get the goal to go ahead.
However, shortly after, in the 66th minute, the Saints took the lead, as Djenepo forced his way through the United defence and calmly placed the ball in Henderson’s far corner. That was the Malian’s second goal for the club, as he celebrated in front of the traveling supporters.
In an attempt to respond, the Blades amped up their pressure and played with a much higher line.
This almost instantly yielded them a result, as Fleck took a low struck shot from far out but it went just wide of the post.
Just a few minutes later, Sharp pushed his way past Vestergaard and delivered a cross towards the centre of the box. As it looked like it was going out, it was headed back in towards the centre and cleared out for a corner.
The following corner resulted in a handball situation, as the ball looked like it may have touched the arm of James Ward-Prowse. Chants calling for VAR rang out across the stadium but it was ruled not to have been a handball.
The Blades came close again, as in the 79th minute, Sharp crossed it to McGoldrick, who’s following shot was parried out by Gunn. The ball fell to another United player, who again crossed it to McGoldrick, only for this shot to be blocked by a defender.
However, it would only get worse for United. In the 85th minute, Sharp went in for a nasty challenge on Stuart Armstrong. The referee had little to think about, as the tackle clearly warranted a red card.
With just ten men left on the pitch it looked unlikely for United to be able to turn it around.
In a last ditch attempt, the Blades got a freekick in the centre of the pitch. Every United player gathered in the Saints’ penalty area, including goalkeeper Henderson, but the free kick was cleared for a corner, only for the corner to result in a goal kick, at which point the referee ended the game.
Sheffield United now find themselves in 13th place in the League, while Southampton overtake the Blades and propell up to 10th.
Chris Wilder’s men will now have to look ahead to next week, where they will play Everton away.
Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl said: “I wanted to be brave and to show them that we wanted to take the three points.”
On Che Adams’ performance: “He is a little bit unlucky and he must work for his first goal. Everybody helps him and that is something that is special with this team.”
On the VAR decisions: “I think for offside, this is a fantastic tool.”
“Maybe it was today that we were lucky with VAR but we will also have moments where we aren’t lucky.”
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said: “They score from a poor decision by Oli (Norwood) who has been fantastic for us, it wasn’t like him.”
“Four out of the last five goals have been really poor from our point of view and we’ve got a decent defensive record.”
“We had more (chances) than the opposition, we played the way we want to play football.”
“We want to create chances, we had more than the opposition, we played the way we want to play football.”
On the referee not going to the monitor for the VAR decisions: “He doesn’t really need to go to the monitor because he has got someone who has 37 different views on it. He doesn’t really need to do it because they work in tandem.”
Sheffield United: Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham (Robinson, 83’); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram (Mousset, 72’), Baldock; McBurnie (Sharp, 64’), McGoldrick. . Subs not used: Moore, Freeman, Osborn, Besic.
Southampton: Gunn; Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bednarek; Djenepo (Ings, 74’), Hojbjerg, Romeu, Cedric; Boufal (Armstrong, 84’), Ward-Prowse; Adams (Long, 90 + 1’). Subs not used: McCarthy, Stephens, Bertrand, Valery
Referee: Lee Mason
Bookings: Sheffield United: Billy Sharp (Red card, 85’)
Southampton: Vestergaard (Yellow card, 47’)
Scorers: Sheffield United: N/A
Southampton: Djenepo (66’)
HT: 0 – 0
FT: 0 – 1
Man of the Match: Dean Henderson