Despite starting poorly in difficult conditions, Sheffield United rallied well to come back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Bournemouth. They now go up to fifth, two points behind Chelsea in the Champions League positions.
Bournemouth adjusted better to the after-effects of Storm Ciara in the first half. The visitors dominated possession and created a number of chances, with Harry Wilson and Callum Wilson both heading wide early on. The latter made it 1-0 early on from the Liverpool loanee’s blocked shot, hammering in the rebound.
They then had the chance to make it 2-0 almost immediately, with Ryan Fraser’s cross evading his teammates in the box. After that chance, Sheffield United found their way back into the game. Sharp hit the side-netting on one occasion, and was able to poke in a rebound towards the end of the first half. It was his first goal since the opening day of the season, coincidentally also against Bournemouth.
In the second half, Sheffield United continued to pick up the momentum, but the visitors were able to keep them at bay. It was a tightly fought game, with several fouls. A number of Bournemouth players were accused of play-acting, to the ire of the home support. Tensions flared when John Egan tackled Dan Gosling; the hosts were enraged, leading manager Chris Wilder to go head-to-head with Andrew Surman. Both were shown the yellow card.
The game looked to be heading for a draw, as both sides were unable to find a way through. Dean Henderson made a superb save from Fraser, while substitute Lys Mousset, signed from Bournemouth in the summer, saw his shot blocked by Adam Smith. However, he was able to set up fellow substitute John Lundstram in the 84th minute, who showed remarkable composure to finish into the bottom corner.
New signing Sander Berge made his home debut to the adulation of the fans, and had an understated afternoon. While he gave the ball away for Bournemouth’s opener, he held onto the ball well and helped to shift the momentum in the second half.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said after the game: “To turn a losing position into a winning one shows what my group of players are about. We found a way to win. It was a great comeback. The belief the boys have is amazing.
“John Lundstram’s performance speaks volumes. When you sign players, you look into signing good players, ones that can overcome disappointments. His contribution has been great.
“Sharp has had a different type of test this season, but his attitude is great and he showed his reaction today. He and McBurnie were great. McBurnie was outstanding.
“I don’t agree with the winter break. I want it to go on. I don’t see the point of it. The players are fit and want to roll on to next Saturday. But we will maximise it. Our plans are top-secret, but it’s a bit of work and rest.
“I’ve come to terms with this division. It was a passionate game. I’ve no problem. It calmed down after. We wanted to win. Andrew wanted to win. Everyone wants to win.”
Howe commented, “We passed the ball well. The early signs were good. But the second goal was a poor one. The lads gave everything, and we were really committed.
“There were a lot of good bits today but not enough to get a result and we needed it away from home. When we get the lead in these types of games we need to defend better. Their first bit of pressure and we conceded.
“There’s things to grow from and stuff to learn from but we’re running out of games to keep saying that. The winter break is what it is. This is a dent in the momentum from the last two results.
“It’s a horrible feeling to take into the break but we have to come back after this two-week break and go again.”
Sheffield United: Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Berge (61’ Lundstram), Baldock; Sharp (74’ Mousset), McBurnie. Subs not used: Verrips, Jagielka, Retsos, Osborn, McGoldrick
Bournemouth: Ramsdale; Rico, Ake, Francis, Smith; Gosling, Billing; Fraser (84’ Stanislas), Surman (88’ Solanke), H Wilson (72’ King); C Wilson. Subs not used: Boruc, S Cook, Stacey, L Cook
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Bookings: Sheffield United: Stevens (39’), Mousset (89’)
Bournemouth: Surman (53’), Francis (94’), Wilson (94’)
HT: 1 – 1
FT: 2 – 1
Man of the Match: Billy Sharp