An Andreas Weimann hat-trick gave Bristol City a 3-2 win over Sheffield United, coming from behind twice to continue their surge for the play-offs.
The defeat brought an end to United’s run of three successive wins and seven successive league games without conceding as they allowed Lee Johnson’s side to leave with all three points.
Billy Sharp put the Blades in front on six minutes before Weimann levelled before half-time.
The former Norwich and Aston Villa playmaker levelled again shortly after Scott Hogan opened his account for the Blades, and with seven minutes remaining Weimann sealed his hat-trick after firing past Henderson following a quick one-two with Famara Diedhiou.
The result meant Leeds – who scored late on to beat Millwall 3-2 – leapfrogged the Blades as Chris Wilder’s men dropped a place to third.
The Blades had appeared to pick up from their fine form before the international break after an explosive start to the match.
A free-kick from John Fleck was whipped in towards the far post and Billy Sharp was on hand to guide it past the gloves of Max O’Leary in the City goal.
David McGoldrick, who set-up a goal for the Republic of Ireland earlier this week, came close to doubling the advantage minutes later but his low drive was palmed away from danger.
United kept knocking and despite Bristol City not having too much in the way of a chance, Andreas Weimann duly levelled on the half hour mark. Perhaps Dean Henderson was unsighted by the sun – he was wearing a black cap to try and improve his visibility – when he leapt to try and pick out the playmaker’s looped header. The shot-stopper couldn’t claw the effort away from the post, however, and helped it on its way into the net. It was the first league goal the Blades had conceded at home in 697 minutes of football.
The Robins’ form may have petered out over the last couple of months but they are now just one point from the play-offs with two games in hand.
They didn’t make life easy for the Blades who introduced Scott Hogan at the break as Kieran Dowell made way. It was attempt by Wilder to just inject a little more steel at the top of the top of the pitch. With Mark Duffy missing from the match day squad due to an injury, the Blades were lacking someone to unlock that final ball.
The Blades had also changed to four at the back, pushing Basham into midfield, a role he played during the 1-0 win against Leeds United at Elland Road. While he may not have had the best of starts to that game he did go on to net the winner, and it appears Wilder trusts the ball-playing defender to do a job for him in the middle.
It actually made the game a little scrappier with loose balls popping up all over the place, and Weimann tried to add to his tally but had a couple of long rangers thwarted by Henderson.
Hogan’s pace began to unravel the Robins’ defence though but the final ball was either blocked or a little behind a red and white shirt.
As the bumper crowd began to get a little tetchy – 30,000+ were in attendance – United continued to apply the pressure and a stinging effort from 25-yards by Fleck was awkwardly batted away by O’Leary who did his best in the face of the glaring sun.
A foul by Oli Norwood on Weimann a couple of yards outside the D was not what United wanted, but it gave Josh Brownhill a chance to mount a play-off surge for his side. The free-kick was near perfect and looked destined for the net but, with Henderson rooted to the spot, and everyone else inside the box for that matter, it cracked against the woodwork and bounced back out into play.
It could’ve swung the game but such is the case in football the small margins can make all the difference, yet this game was far from over.
It perhaps wasn’t surprising then that United went up the other end and clinched a lead. Some dogged wing-play from Baldock gave the defender space to clip a cross to the back post. There were plenty of bodies in the box but Hogan rose highest and nodded down and into the net for his first Blades goal.
Jack O’Connell’s withdrawal shortly after the goal looked concerning, especially considering the calmness he brings to the back-line, and it appeared to unsettle the team somewhat.
But as Wilder’s said previously, every squad member will have to play their part.
There was another twist and turn, though, as Weimann made sure he left the field with a brace, meeting Kasey Palmer’s cross at the far post and angling it past the outstretched Henderson six minutes later.
He wasn’t finished there and, following a neat interchange with Famara Diedhiou, he sealed his hat-trick with a low drive past Henderson. It sent the Bristol City bench into delirium.
With six minutes added time, Henderson went up for a corner but failed to get a telling touch as the Blades were forced to reflect on a tough afternoon where they just couldn’t find that killer touch.
Sheffield United: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell (Johnson, 76’); Baldock, Fleck, Norwood, Stevens; Dowell (Hogan, 46’); Sharp (C), McGoldrick. Subs not used: Coutts, Stearman, Cranie, Washington, Moore.
Bristol City: O’Leary; Kalas, Wright (C) (Palmer, 73’), Webster, Hunt; Smith (Paterson, 73’), Pack, Brownhill; Dasilva; Weimann (Baker), Diedhiou. Subs not used: Taylor, Kelly, Eliasson, Stephan Marinovic.
Referee: James Linington
Bookings: Sheffield United: Norwood
Bristol City: Hunt, Pack, Palmer
Scorers: Sheffield United: Billy Sharp (6’), Scott Hogan (71’)
Bristol City: Andreas Weimann (30’, 77’, 83’)
Man of the Match: Andreas Weimann (Bristol City)