West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic said beating Sheffield United was more important for the psychological boost than the three points as his side won for the first time this season in the Premier League to move out of the relegation zone.
Conor Gallagher scored the game’s only goal when he drove through a crowded box early in the first half.
Sheffield United rallied late on as they looked to get their first win of the season but a mixture of fine goalkeeping by Sam Johnstone and poor finishing means they remain bottom of the table with just one point.
In total there were 39 shots in the game – the joint-most in any Premier League game this season – underlining the desperation from both sides to get the win.
“This was the game,” said Bilic. “There are enough games after this one, but it was very important – crucial – for both teams to win the game.
“The guys are reading the papers. Everybody’s asking when are you going to get your first win. That’s why it was incredibly important for us to go over that block.
“I see this as more than three points, because it’s our first win. Second, we’ve done it against a team who is down there with us. It’s a great boost for our confidence and for the games that are coming.”
After Gallagher’s opener, Kyle Bartley went close to adding a second for the hosts but his second-half header was superbly kept out by Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Baggies keeper Johnstone twice prevented the visitors from equalising with excellent saves, keeping out ex-West Brom winger Oliver Burke’s powerful header before somehow stopping Oli McBurnie’s fierce drive.
George Baldock also had a golden opportunity to equalise but somehow bent a shot over the bar when unmarked inside the box.
The visitors threw players forward in the closing stages in a desperate attempt to rescue a point but when Lys Mousset lashed over from six yards out deep into the seven minutes of time added on, it was clear it was not going to be the Blades’ night.
Blades battle but come up short again
Sheffield United’s latest defeat – their ninth of the season – leaves them five points adrift of safety and while there is still plenty of time to turn things round, the situation is looking increasingly bleak.
No team has stayed up in the Premier League having picked up just one point from their first 10 games and the Blades are finding both scoring and keeping out goals difficult, a combination that doesn’t bode well in a battle for survival.
They are the only side in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet and have scored just four goals in their 10 games, with two of those penalties.
The one piece of encouragement for Sheffield United fans was the fight their side showed towards the end of the second half, when a mixture of excellent goalkeeping by Johnstone and poor finishing denied them a point.
However, the Blades are now 13 games without a win – a run that stretches back to last season – and need to find a victory soon before their situation becomes too difficult to recover from.
“We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves,” said Blades boss Chris Wilder.
“If you don’t take your chances and don’t show that quality in and around the box or the penalty area, you’re not going to win games of football.”
|Team||Season||Pts after 10||Final position|
Johnstone shines in crucial win
This was a nervous win for West Brom as they dropped further and further back as the second half wore on, and in truth they can count themselves lucky not to have conceded in the closing stages.
But the nerves were understandable and the psychological boost that moving out of the bottom three will provide should see them play with more confidence in future.
It has been a difficult start for the Baggies but one of the few bright spots has undoubtedly been the form of Johnstone in their goal.
He was excellent in the narrow 1-0 defeat by Manchester United last time out and was again a rock at the back in this game, keeping his cool and staying alert as his team-mates tired and became edgy in the closing stages.
Blades’ unwanted record – the stats
- West Bromwich Albion earned their first Premier League win of the season, leaving opponents Sheffield United as the only side without a victory so far in 2020-21.
- Sheffield United are just the third side in English top-flight history to earn as few as one point after 10 league games, after Manchester United (0 in 1930-31) and West Bromwich Albion (1 in 1985-86).
- 43% of West Brom’s Premier League goals this season have been scored from outside the box (three/seven), the highest ratio of any side in the division.
- Sheffield United remain the only side yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season. Despite this, they’ve still conceded fewer goals (16) than league leaders Liverpool (17) so far this term.
- Conor Gallagher’s opener for West Brom was his first league goal in 34 appearances (excluding play-offs), since netting for Charlton against Cardiff in November 2019.
- West Brom’s Matheus Pereira created nine chances against Sheffield United, the most by a player in a single Premier League game so far this season, and most since Kevin de Bruyne created 10 for Man City against Norwich in July.
- Sheffield United keeper Aaron Ramsdale has conceded 13 goals from outside the box in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than any other goalkeeper in the division.
Sheffield United host Leicester on Sunday, 6 December (14:15 GMT) while West Brom are at home to Crystal Palace at 12:00 GMT on the same day.
West Bromwich Albion
- 20IvanovicBooked at 2mins
- 14TownsendSubstituted forPhillipsat 75′minutes
- 12Costa PereiraBooked at 86mins
- 29GrantSubstituted forKrovinovicat 75′minutes
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 65′minutes
- 12EganBooked at 58mins
- 29BryanSubstituted forLundstramat 63′minutes
- 8BergeBooked at 18mins
- 16NorwoodBooked at 10minsSubstituted forBrewsterat 54′minutes
- 14BurkeSubstituted forMoussetat 74′minutes
Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sheffield United 0.
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sheffield United 0.
Attempt missed. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by John Fleck with a cross.
Attempt missed. Lys Mousset (Sheffield United) right footed shot from very close range is too high.
Attempt missed. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by George Baldock.
Attempt saved. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lys Mousset.
George Baldock (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion).
Offside, Sheffield United. Lys Mousset tries a through ball, but Chris Basham is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. John Lundstram (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Attempt missed. Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Matheus Pereira.
Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Aaron Ramsdale.
Attempt saved. Hal Robson-Kanu (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Filip Krovinovic.
Offside, Sheffield United. Rhian Brewster tries a through ball, but George Baldock is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lys Mousset.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Semi Ajayi.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).
Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
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