The Blades bounced back from midweek defeat with a stirring second-half performance to see off Norwich City.
A loss at home to Newcastle and talk of VAR had meant the build-up to this clash at Carrow Road had been overshadowed somewhat. Arguably, it showed in the first period too.
The Blades were lacklustre in possession and allowed Norwich time and space to dictate the game. The Canaries, then, deservedly led at the break, through Alex Tettey’s strike.
Chris Wilder must have gotten into his troops at half-time, however. Within minutes of the second half, the Blades were level. The brilliant George Baldock crossing for Enda Stevens to head past Tim Krul.
Wilder works his magic at half-time
There was something about United’s play. It was clear Wilder had made a few tactical switches at the break and given his team some firm instructions.
The Blades got their rewards, too. Just minutes after teeing up Stevens, Baldock got in on the goalscoring act with a stunning turn and finish.
More drama came along throughout the half. Chris Basham was at the heart of all things VAR. First, he was seemingly brought down before John Lundstram fired into the corner. VAR, though, adjudged Lundstram to be offside and ignored Basham’s pleas for a penalty.
Secondly, Basham was then red-carded for a rash challenge in the middle of the park. However, after exiting the field of play, VAR came to United’s and Basham’s rescue as his red was reduced to a yellow.
It proved pivotal. United saw the game out from there with minimal fuss. David McGoldrick twice had good chances to put the tie to bed but once again fluffed his lines.
All in all, though, Chris Wilder be happy to come away from Carrow Road with three points amid what is a crucial period of the season for his Blades team.
Player ratings from site writer, Lee Connor, below.
Dean Henderson – 8
Gets an 8 despite having little to do because of his stunning save from Todd Cantwell at 2-1. Henderson earned his keep with that one moment of brilliance and was assured with handling throughout.
George Baldock – 9 (MOTM)
Baldock’s best game in a Blades shirt. Dominated down the right and got his rewards with a goal and assist. Seemingly improving on a weekly basis.
Chris Basham – 6
Defender well but was quite lucky to see his red-card overturned. It was the right decision but needs to be wary of such rash challenges over the Christmas period.
John Egan – 8
Another assured and calm performance from United’s ‘Mr Reliable’. Kept Teemu Pukki quiet throughout and led by example when he took the armband from Oliver Norwood in the second half.
Jack O’Connell – 6
Struggled a bit in the first period and was seemingly exposed for once at times. Still, kept going and put in a number of crucial blocks and challenges late on.
Enda Stevens – 7
Like O’Connell, seemed in trouble defensively in the first half. However, got his goal with a superb header and grew into the game as it progressed.
Ollie Norwood – 6
One of his quieter games it has to be said. Seemed off the pace somewhat in the first half and was booked for a very late challenge too.
John Fleck – 7
Grew as the game went on and recovered from a poor first-half display like so many of the Blades players did.
John Lundstram – 7
Like Fleck, improved as the tie progressed and showed unbelievable energy levels. Laid one on a plate for McGoldrick and scored himself before VAR intervened.
David McGoldrick – 7
So frustrating for McGoldrick once again. Was the spark in the second half to get United going but ultimately failed to find the net with good chances again. Needs a goal quickly.
Lys Mousset – 6
Quieter day for ”Moose’ and went off with what looked like a nasty injury after falling awkwardly.
Mo Besic – 7
Stepped in for Norwood and was excellent in his work. Battled, ran, and used the ball wisely enough as United saw out the game.
Callum Robinson – 6
Worked hard and provided the Blades with an outlet late on in the game.
Oli McBurnie – 6
Didn’t really have time to impact the game but won a fair few headers once again.