An impressive second-half display by the Magpies left the Blades beaten and bruised on their second outing since Project Restart.
Chris Wilder’s men have now picked up just 1 point against two bottom-half teams, with the dream of European football under threat thanks to goals from Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie and a jubilant Joelinton.
Jubilant is one word to describe the £40m frontman – relieved is certainly another – as he finally ended his Premier League goal drought, scoring only his second league goal and his first since August.
The Brazilian’s goal capped off a fine display from Steve Bruce’s side who thoroughly outclassed their opponents and ran out deserving winners. The win moves the Magpies 11 points clear of the drop zone and all but safe from relegation with 8 games still to play – yet more Geordie relief.
As for Sheffield United, they find themselves 7th having missed the chance to overtake Manchester United in 5th. With a performance as lacklustre and rusty as Newcastle’s was energetic and vibrant, they could never get into their stride and were made to pay for individual errors.
The first error was perhaps the costliest as John Egan let Joelinton get goal-side and proceeded to pull him down for a second yellow card just after half-time. Often a calming presence in their backline, the Blades could not recover and were made to pay just 5 minutes later by the brilliant Saint-Maximin, undoubtedly the standout performer for his side, after another error.
Ritchie’s low cross from the left seemed routine for Enda Stevens to just hack clear but he inexplicably fluffed his lines and allowed the ball through his legs straight to the Newcastle winger who fired low and hard past Dean Henderson who was caught off-guard by his teammate’s mishap and could not sort his feet out to save.
Ritchie then went from provider to scorer as he was allowed to drive at the Sheffield backline and fire past Henderson for Newcastle’s second – all too easy for Bruce’s men. 10 minutes later the rout was completed as Joelinton tapped in Almirón’s centre from close range.
Newcastle fans will no doubt have mixed emotions after the first goals scored at St James’ Park since January were scored in front of empty stands but ultimately it’s a brilliant return to football for the Geordies and their fans will be at home, happy.
For Wilder’s men, there should be no signs of panic, no alarm bells or despair on what was an off day in an unbelievable season that could yet bring European football to Bramall Lane.
Newcastle United: Dubravka, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernández, Rose; Ritchie (Yedlin 90+2’), Hayden, Shelvey (Schär 85’), Saint-Maximin (Bentaleb 79’); Almirón (Lazaro 85’), Joelinton (Carroll 79’). Subs not used: Gayle, Muto, Krafth, Darlow.
Sheffield United: Henderson; Baldock, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Stevens; Norwood, Berge (Lundstram 66’), Fleck (L. Freeman 73’); McBurnie (K. Freeman 85’), Sharp (Zivkovic 74’). Subs not used: Moore, Osborn, Jagielka, Mousset, Rodwell.
Referee: David Coote
Bookings: Newcastle United: Lascelles, Joelinton
Sheffield United: N/A
Red Cards: Newcastle United: N/A
Sheffield United: Egan
Scorers: Newcastle United: Saint-Maximin (55’). Ritchie (69’), Joelinton (78’).
Sheffield United: N/A
HT: 0 – 0
FT: 3 – 0
Man of the Match: Allan Saint-Maximin